Monday, March 26, 2012

Pedder Rd school joins SoBo citizens’ movement against cellphone towers

Activity High School students, and south Mumbai residents to take the protest to the CMO; actor Juhi Chawla had launched a similar stir last year

A school at Pedder Road has joined the citizens' movement against haphazard installation of mobile phone towers on south Mumbai buildings.

More than 300 students of Activity High School, supported by their teachers, parents, and residents of societies at Pedder Road, Carmichael Road and Malabar Hill, have launched a signature campaign demanding the State government regulate the number of mobile communication towers in the area.

Over the past few days, the students collected over 500 signatures, and plan to take the protest to the Chief Minister's Office. Taking a cue from actor Juhi Chawla's fight against mobile phone towers, the students also put up banners listing the health risks posed by such towers.

Last year, Juhi Chawla and her neighbours had put up banners against mobile phone towers outside their building at Malabar Hill, when they failed to get a response from the State government regarding electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation from cell phone towers installed at Sahyadri, the government guesthouse in the vicinity.

On Monday, the Activity High School principal Perin Bagli, with the help of a few activists, measured the EMF radiation levels in the lanes of south Mumbai. Almost all the lanes around Pedder Road, Carmichael Road and Malabar Hill showed the radiation levels “dangerously high”.

While recent research has stated that only 1 milli watt is considered a 'safe exposure', the exposure limits to radio frequency fields in India is allowed up to 9.2 watts per sq metre - a huge climb compared to the permissible limits in other countries (3 in Canada; 2 in Australia; 1.2 in Belgium; 0.1 in China; 0.02 in Russia).

Principal Bagli said, "The perils of mobile phone towers range from short-term problems such as fatigue and frequent headaches to more serious issues such as cancers, tumours and congenital deformities. We have many buildings around our school, and indeed across the area, where close to 10 mobile communication towers are installed. Many of these towers can be viewed from our classrooms, putting our students in the direct line of radiation."

Residents have pledged to support the school in this fight. Carmichael Road resident Dilnar Chichgar is one of them. "For the past many months, I have been appealing to the managing committees of the housing societies to limit the number of mobile communication towers, but they don't bother. Once the managing committee decides, the flat owners have to fall in line, which is ridiculous," she said.

"More than 500 residents have already pledged support to the campaign, and more will join in," she said, "In Ushakiran building at Carmichael Road, we saw six residents diagnosed with cancer in a period of six months. We can't prove the phone towers caused the problem, but the health perils cannot be ignored."



Mumbai Mirror - March 27, 2012 - Pg 4 and 5 Vinod Shah, from Ajanta Building at Carmichael Road, was one of the first to pledge his support to the cause. He said that he 'lost' his bedroom because of the mobile communication towers. "The building opposite by flat has 18 such towers, and my bedroom is in direct line of those towers. Even when the windows are shut, the room is high on radiation caused by electromagnetic frequency. I was forced to stop using that room."

Officials of many housing societies that Mumbai Mirror visited on Monday refused to comment on the issue. Many others said they were not flouting any rules. Nitin Shah, the secretary of Maheshwari Niketan, where a few communication towers have been installed, had this to say: "The towers have been installed as per the rules; nobody can object about those. My society has all permissions in place."

Link: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/article/2/2012032720120327034233745563fdf8a/Pedder-Rd-school-joins-SoBo-citizens%E2%80%99-movement-against-cellphone-towers.html

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