Monday, October 11, 2010

Expert Counsel Meet - Mumbaiites learn about the effect of radiation from towers

Concerned citizens call for a expert committee meet to create awareness and understand implications of long term cell tower radiation exposure.

On a Sunday afternoon (October 11, 2010) residents at the Nepean Sea Road and Altamount Road organized an expert committee meet to get definitive answers to the increasing problem of radiation from mobile phones and mobile towers.

The Nepean Sea Road Citizen’s Forum and the Altamount Road Residents’ Committee held a meeting where various experts shared their opinions about the effects of radiation emitted from mobile phones and mobile towers.

At the panel were (from right to left)Mr. Prakash Patel (resident of Usha Kiran), Mr. Vikas Bonde from Loop Mobile, Prof Girish Kumar from IIT Bombay, Dr SM Desai from TIFR, Shri AL Pandey (TERM - Telecommunication Enforcement Resource Monitoring Cell), Mr. C.U. Singh (Senior Advocate for the Operators)

Mr. Prakash Patel spoke about four cases of cancer reported among residents of Usha Kiran building who live in the main beam of the cell tower antennas that are located opposite to their building.

Mr. Vikas Bonde from Loop Mobile stated studies which show no serious damage from towers but did report minor health effects from towers.

Prof. Girish Kumar from IIT Bombay said, "The current guidelines for radiation exposure are outdated. India currently follows the International Commission for Non Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNRIP). The guidelines were set in 1998, when mobile phones were just introduced. How can we continue to follow them when other nations have moved on?”. The ICNIRP guidelines mandate that exposure to radio frequency fields (of the 1800MHz spectrum) is 9.2 watts per square metre. However, in countries like Russia, Bulgaria and Hungary the accepted level is 0.02 watts per square metre-which is a hundred times lesser.

Prof. Kumar also mentioned that if the current emitted power from towers were reduced 10 fold, the problem will be reduced by a much greater extend to which the Loop mobile person seemed to comply with.

Mr Hari Shetty (from Mobile Towers Grievance Forum) and Prof. Kumar are united in their demand for stricter guidelines. Shetty said, “The state should at least frame policies to regulate the invisible radiation.”

Also, the problem is that people don’t know much about the subject and the information available will confuse the layman. Hence, it is important to know the truth before they agree to install these towers.

Mr. AL Pandey, Deputy Director-General, Telecom Enforcement, Resources and Monitoring cell (TERM) agreed with this assessment and said, “The network providers need to understand that business cannot be done at the cost of people’s lives. Hence, we’ve stepped in and are doing our own study before taking action against errant companies”.

However, Senior Advocate, Mr. C. U Singh from Delhi, who has represented the BMC, Air India, TATA Motors, Reliance put forward studies which showed no/negligible damage with long term exposure and also animal studies which showed brain damge and other serious health problems. Mr. Singh believes that people should search for the answers themselves and decide if radiation can lead to serious damage.

Dr. Desai from Tata Memorial Hospital summarized the session and further believes the need for stricter guideline to be adopted.

The Question-Answer session was particularly interesting as residents came forward and mentioned that they have towers of 7 different operators facing their apartment and some often heard noises which were not heard elsewhere. Another concerned resident mentioned that they had about 30 towers facing their house.

The full videos can be seen below. Also, media coverage appeared in Hindustan Times and DNA. Here are the links:
Citizens learn about mobile phone safety - Hindustan Times and