Sunday, April 7, 2013

DoT awakens to cancer-causing cellphone towers

Apr 7, 2013
DNA Exclusive: DoT awakens to cancer-causing cellphone towers

The department of telecommunication or DoT has finally woken up to the fact that there may be a correlation between cancer and exposure to radiation from cell phone towers.

A comprehensive study conducted by a DoT body has documented cases of cancer deaths in areas overexposed to telecom towers in Mumbai.

“TERM Cell Mumbai has been receiving complaints on suspected high radiation from mobile towers. While going through some of these cases, one case has come to notice where in one residential complex six members of five individual families have been diagnosed with cancer in a span of 5-6 years,” said the report by the Telecom Enforcement Resources & Monitoring (TERM), Mumbai.

The society in question is Jawan Nagar society in Borivali. Bipin Shah, a resident, says: “When the study was conducted, the government said radiation levels were under control after which two more towers were installed in the area. We have decided to move court against the tower companies,” he said.

There has been growing concern over the impact of telecom tower radiation on human beings and many citizens, residents’ associations and the media have previously highlighted these concerns.

The TERM report documented the health profile of the complainants. The survey covers societies in Borivali, Bandra, Wadala, Thane, Andheri, Parel and Dadar, among others. The DoT now plans to conduct more such studies in Mumbai and other parts of the country.

Chetan Shah, 34, a resident of Jawan Nagar society, said at least eight neighbours have died due to cancer in his society in the past two years. “Every few months we hear of another death. We’ve been continuously complaining about new cell towers being erected around our society. They are so close - not even 20 metres away,” he said.

Another Jawan Nagar resident, 72-year-old Rasnidhi Vyas, whose wife Chandrika died of breast cancer in 2009, remembers the numerous visits to Nanavati Hospital. “The cancer kept returning till the doctors gave up.” Chandrika was later also diagnosed with lung cancer. “She was bed ridden and in tremendous pain. It pains me to even remember those days,” he says.

Kirtida Bhatt, 62, was diagnosed with cancer last June. “Fortunately it was the starting stage and we went to the doctor on time and got the cyst removed by surgery. Then I went for a CT scan on the recommendation of my doctor. They found 2-3 other little cysts near the same spot for which I was assigned to go through six cycles of chemotherapy. I am grateful I am now clear of any signs of cancer.”

KR Samant from Namaskar housing society in Andheri (E), also part of the TERM survey, has been fighting telecom companies for almost a year now. His wife suffers from breast cancer and two people in his society have died.

Chetan Shah says his family lives in fear after having seen so many neighbours succumb to cancer. “We are not going to wait for one of us to get cancer and have decided to take legal action,” he said.

In September 2012, the government lowered radiation emission limits for mobile phone towers to 450 milliwatts/sq m from 4,500. But even this is way above international norms.


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