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Mumbai citizens divided over effects of radiation from cellphone towers

Posted on: October 11, 2010

Is radiation from cellphone towers proving to be harmful for residents living around them? Whether the assumption that such radiation affects the health of human beings is hypothetical or has a concrete base is still a point of debate.

To ensure that there is some clarity on the issue, Napean Sea Road Citizens’ Forum (NSRCF) and Altamount Road Area Citizens’ Committee (ARACC) jointly conducted a seminar.

A mobile operator, an IIT-Bombay professor, the deputy director of the department of telecommunication (DoT), and an advocate who has fought cases for cellphone companies were present in it.

Prakash Patel, a resident of Napean Sea Road, said: “Not so long ago, a woman died of cancer and two other people were diagnosed with it. While it cannot be confirmed, there is strong suspicion that ever since a cellphone tower was erected very close to her flat, radiation could have been the reason of the woman’s death.”

Patel’s opening remarks in the seminar more or less confirm the bewilderment of most of the residents living in the surroundings where cellphone towers have come up.

“There have been several studies but not one shows radiation to be the cause of cancer. Whatever radiation towers emit is less than that of microwaves and radios,” said a person from a mobile company, urging residents not to panic.

However, Girish Kumar, an IIT-Bombay professor, said that by the time problems are known, it’s too late. “We have had delays in knowing the harms of X-rays. It should not be the case that we suddenly have problems like cancer on a large scale after 30 years and do not know what to do about it,” said Kumar.

Kumar also said that even the mobile phones have some amount of radiation. “Radiation is there. In fact, all things that are wireless do have some amount of radiation. One should try to avoid them as much as possible. Cellphone towers and phones that absorb more power for connectivity, harm you more,” he added.

Advocate Chandra Singh, however, said that though there is suspicion, literature present and studies do not blame any source. “There is a permissible level set, which is way below the mark that can cause any trouble to people. Cellphone towers are presently functioning at the 0.002-0.2% of that permissible level,” said Singh.

AN Pandey from DoT said, “The debate is on how to enjoy mobile facilities without affecting our health. There was a study by an eminent panel that stated it was not so harmful. By November 15, we are also planning to do a nationwide check on all cell towers. We will ask the providers to give us details of their radiation limit compliance, and accordingly, decide their necessity.”

Gautam Watsa, a resident, said, “Everything about cell towers is bad. The question is whether you should have these towers or not. They talk of cellphones having problems but it is debatable. There should be a prescribed way of measuring soon as, otherwise, there could be complications in future.”

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