Friday, February 26, 2010
2 Months On & Govt Still Hunts For Experts To Study Claims Of Illegal Mobile Phone Towers & Radiation Risk
Times of India - February 26, 2010
Cell tower watchdog to be set up in 10 days
Mumbai: Two months after promising to set up a committee to study the harmful effects of radiation from mobile towers,the state government has managed to do little.The reason The apparent dearth of expertise in the field of electromagnetic radiation.The state is scrounging for experts who can sit on a technical committee needed to assess the damage,if at all,caused by mobile towers erected atop buildings.Ministers claim they are trying to cobble together a team within the next week itself.
The issue was raised by BJP legislator Vinod Tawde in the legislative council during the last assembly session held in December.We have given an assurance to the House,but we want experts and not people who represent the industry, said state health minister Suresh Shetty.He said that a five-member technical committee will be set up within a week to 10 days to look into the medical aspects.
Radiation risk is a hotly debated topic across the world,with the US Congress declaring only a few months ago that while theres fear about radiation from mobile phones\towers increasing the risk of cancer,there was no substantial evidence to prove it.The fear seems to have arrived on Indian shores.The state boasts of a Mobile Tower Grievances Forum that has taken upon itself the task of educating ministers and the common man about the health hazards associated with mobile towers.Rules regarding setting up of mobile towers are laid down by the BMC and deal with a building and establishment.
Says Dr Shashank Joshi,endocrinologist with Lilavati Hospital who wrote a research paper on mobile radiation in the medical journal JAPI last year,Both mobile towers and phones are a cause for concern due to the radiation they emit.But mobile towers are definitely a cause for greater concern than phones.We need proper rules like in the West to guide their installation. His paper listed out the gamut of illnesses arising out of mobile radiationfrom psychiatric illnesses to hormonal imbalances.Manoj Londhe,a member of the Mobile Tower Grievances Forum who was instrumental in the issue being raised in the legislative council,said there is an increasing incidence of residents living on the top floor of buildings with mobile towers suffering from different kinds of cancer.Another member cites the theory of melatonin hormone,which states that the hormone,produced mainly during rest at night,is responsible for neutralising free radicals that have the ability to destroy cellular composition and thus increase the risk of cancer.He said that his office building had a mobile tower.I was on leave for a week and did a test to detect the levels of melatonin hormone.It was 26 pg/ml.I repeated the test after a couple of days of returning to work and the levels had dropped to 20 pg/ml.A drop in these hormones is a trigger for cancer.Most telephone companies have over 50,000 towers each already.The rush to install mid- and smaller towns will now begin,say experts,as Indias mobile customer base is poised to increase from 500 million to 700 million in the next two years.Efforts to talk to mobile companies were not fruitful.But mobile companies have time and again stated that the fears are exaggerated.Their positionas ratified by the ICMRs committee set up in 2005 is that height of mobile towers should be 36 m so that they dont affect the person on the street.The argument put forth by naysayers is that mobile towers set up on buildings are rarely 36 m from the top-most flats.In other words,people living on the top floor are sitting ducks.