Life may be back to normal for the 150 family members who reside on 15B cross and around 2nd stage of Mahalakshmi Layout. But definitely not for homemaker Leela, a 10-year-old child, Devi and a couple of others in the locality. Reason, they are coping with the aftermath of a tower threat which has besieged them with far-reaching health consequences.
Leela and her husband Prakash, a contractor who also runs a cable business, had a normal life till the mobile tower came up as a threat, which was installed by their neighbour, Siddappadevaru, now a retired professor. What started with one connection was later tagged with 3 connections - Hutch, Airtel and Idea.
Though the tower was installed in 2007, the effect of the tower radiation started in the 2009 when Leela’s vision started getting blurry. “That was the first time I got an MRI scan done. From then on, life has never been normal for me as I started having severe hair fall. Even the hair on my eyebrows kept falling. I went pillar to post only to realise that the reason behind my health issue was the tower,” says Leela, who has tried almost all types of medicines like homeopathy, ayurveda and allopathy.
“I need to take an injection, Avinex, every week which costs `7700 per injection, for the next fifteen years. Once I take the injection, my entire body goes numb and I just can’t do anything. So I take it only during the weekend,” she adds.
The doctors were initially confused about her health issues but later realised that the reasons was her spinal nerve which had become weak. They asked her to continue the injections for the next 20 years.
Otherwise she might go into coma. “It is the same case with the 10-year-old child too. It is so upsetting to see a child suffering every week,” she says. The difficulties did not limit to only these two people. Roopa, who resides in this area had to take leave from her office as she had to undergo treatment for the various health hazards which were caused by the tower radiation. Another neighbour, Naren, residing on the same road has sleeping disorders and can sleep only for a maximum of three hours.
■ A fight for their right: It took nearly four years for the residents of Mahalakshmi Layout to remove the mobile tower. They had requested Siddappadevaru not to install the tower as they had read about the health hazards caused by such towers. “But the owner of the house, told us that there was no such threat from the tower. In fact we had frequent arguments with their family also. Even a scientist, who lives in front of our house, joined the professor in explaining that the tower was harmless,” explained Leela.
When they realised that they could not handle the case alone, they approached other family members in the area to form an association to remove the tower.
“We approached the pollution board, the electricity department and various other government bodies. But everybody kept pointing fingers to another department as they did not wish to take the onus. Even the former deputy mayor S Harish did not help us in this case. When we approached him, he told us that this matter has to be dealt at the central level. It was MLA Narendra Babu, who stood by us and we were able to get the tower dismantled on September 9, 2012,” she said.
Though Siddappa did not wish to comment on the issue, in his letter to the company that installed the tower, he had stated, “According to the agreement, the tower was placed ten years ago. Since there is a lot of pressure from the residents in the area I would like to withdraw the services with immediate effect. Please come and dismantle the tower for the welfare of the people.”