Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tower distance violations irk activists

MUMBAI: A day after the BMC released a list of 3,618 "illegal" cell towers in the city, anti-radiation activists on Wednesday came out with their own list of irregularities. Major violations of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) directions concerning distance between tower antennae and neighbouring buildings figured prominently on the list.
On a south Mumbai rooftop, activists found six antennae at just "seven metres" from a neighbouring building.
"The DoT norms stipulate that the distance of an antenna from a neighbouring building should be a minimum of 20 metres," activist Prakash Munshi said. "In case of two antennae, this should be 35 metres, and in case of six, it should be 55 metres."



A complaint was sent to the DoT. Munshi said most cell towers had antennae clusters, leading to high power output and increased radiation risks.
Activist A V Shenoy said bunching of antennae was a serious issue in a city with a high population density, citing the Haji Ali area as an example. "Every mobile company will claim that it has installed a single antenna on the rooftop, but if you look at it collectively, you will find that five different companies have installed their antennae on the same building and this increases the radiation levels for the neighbourhood," he said.
Corporator Vinod Shelar, who is spearheading a campaign against illegal towers, threatened a massive dharna outside the municipal commissioner's office if his demand for a cell tower policy was ignored.
He said he wanted the municipal commissioner to bring up the draft cell tower policy for discussion before the civic improvements committee in a week. "It should be discussed in the BMC House and a resolution should be passed to weed out illegal towers in Mumbai," he said.
Activist Nikhil Desai said a significant number of illegal towers were not covered under litigation. "Why isn't the BMC razing these?" he said. "It only shows that officials have some vested interests."
He said that those claiming that cell towers pose no health risk should be asked to stay in buildings close to the towers.
Cellular operators said most towers had DoT nods besides 10 to 12 other certifications. "The BMC should clarify what is illegal according to it and then take action," a Cellular Operators Association of India representative said.
BMC DRAFT POLICY ON CELL SITES
* Only one tower should be allowed on every building
* Written consent of 70% of occupants as well as every person on topmost floor of the building mandatory
* Ban on cellphone towers at schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages, child rehabilitation centres and old age homes
CITY NUMBERS
Cell towers: 4,776
Legal towers: 1,158
Illegal Towers: 3,618
(Source: BMC)

Link: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-12-26/mumbai/45591726_1_cell-towers-illegal-towers-cellphone-towers

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