City wakes up to cancer hazard from mobile towers

After complaints from residents, the three municipal corporations in Delhi have decided to ‘seal’ 2700 illegal towers set up after 2009.

Published: 18th November 2012 11:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th November 2012 11:55 AM   |  A+A-


The three municipal corporations in the Capital  are bracing to ‘seal’ illegal mobile towers. There are a total of 5500 mobile towers in the capital out of which 2700 are “illegal”. The municipal corporations have woken up to the reality of having allowed 2700 ‘illegal’ mobile towers to spring up in Delhi.

Now, the North Delhi municipal corporation (NMC), South Delhi municipal corporation (SDMC) and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) are in the process of initiating a ‘sealing drive’. In August this year, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit had called a meeting of representatives of the entire three municipal corporations to discuss plans for tackling the issue of illegal mobile towers.

All three municipal corporations are engaged in the process of surveying mobile towers in their jurisdiction, while the EDMC has issued notices pertaining to illegal mobile towers.

In the jurisdiction of the SDMC, the public mood against the mobile towers is evident from the fact that the municipal corporation was forced to seal a mobile tower at Defence Colony in September following repeated protests of citizens residing in the area. The World Health Organisation 2011 factsheet stated that international agency for research on cancer (ICAR) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. 

SDMC Mayor Savita Gupta said, “There are health concerns with regards to emissions from mobile towers. We are going to issue notices with regards to illegal mobile towers that were erected after 2009. There is a court order that action can be initiated against mobile towers that came after 2009. Sealing process will be initiated against illegal mobile towers that have come up in residential areas.”

Gupta said that people are highly susceptible to radiation when mobile towers are located near their residence. Earlier this year, the residents of Defence Colony vociferously protests against mobile towers erected in residential areas of the locality. “I am aware of a Jaipur-based family where all the members developed brain tumor. There were multiple mobile towers in their residential area,” Gupta  said. Meanwhile, Yogendra Chandolia, standing committee chairperson, NMC said, “The municipal corporation will take strict action. It had announced a revised mobile tower policy in the year 2010. The policy envisaged that minimum number of towers should be installed near residential areas, hospitals and schools.”

In 2010, the municipal corporation increased installation fees from `one lakh to `five lakh for a period of five years.

In November 2011, the Inter- ministerial committee on electromagnetic radiation (EMR) stated that a provision should be made for continuous online monitoring and display of radiation level in mobile network frequency range at prominent places in metros and cities. The mobile service providers shall measure the radiation level in the mobile network frequency range at prominent places and display it for the general public. The service providers should have mobile unit for the measurement of radiation level wherever necessary. The committee further concluded that the manufacturers in handset booklet should say that children, adolescents and pregnant women should keep calls short or send a text message instead.

The inter-ministerial committee also stated the exposure limit for radio frequency field (base station emissions) by mobile towers should be reduced to one-tenth of existing exposure level. This rule was enforced in September this year.

The Ministry of environment and forests constituted an expert committee to study the possible impacts of communication towers on wildlife including birds and bees. The committee concluded that regular auditing of EMR should be conducted in urban localities, educational institutes, hospital, residential, recreational and industrial premises. Bold signs and messages on the dangers of cell phone towers and associated radiations should be displayed in and around the structures of towers. The ministry conveyed to the department of telecommunications that new towers should not be permitted within one kilometre radius of the existing towers.


- Sunday Standard


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