NEED OF LAW TO CURB “UNCONTROLLED MUSHROOMING” OF
We see mobile towers erected on top of houses, multi-storied buildings, in Maharashtra ( and for that matter in the whole of India). The increasing number of towers on buildings in thickly populated areas, compel us to think, whether these buildings are for residential purpose or built to make provision for erection of mobile towers. It is a fact that the number of disputes & discontent that are happening in co-operative housing societies are increasing at an alarming rate.
It would be prudent to look into the reasons for discontent among the citizens regarding mobile towers.
WHAT ARE THE FACTS?
1. In new societies, the builder erects the mobile tower well before the society is occupied by the residents. The builder “POCKETS” the rent from the mobile tower company. The first one to suffer from the hazardous radio frequencies emitted by mobile tower are those staying on the top floor of the building. They are compelled to suffer at least for three years; till the contract is effective.
2. Secretary of the co-operative society calls a meeting of the residents. On the basis of majority, permission is granted to erect mobile tower in lieu of a fabulous amount of rent. Incidentally people staying on top floor are negligible in number. As a result, they are in minority & are the first to suffer from radiation. It is bitter truth that many of them have to vacate their residence due to prolonged illness. Instalments of house loans have to be paid by them only as others (who are aware) are not ready to stay in these houses. Moreover, they have to spend hefty amounts towards hospitalization.
3. It is normal practice that, the mobile tower companies initially ask permission for erecting one antenna. Then go on increasing the antennae; thus resulting in 4, 5, 6, 7…towers/ antennae. The sufferers are nobody else but residents, who face illnesses of different types.
4. In most of the cases, permission for erection of tower is granted by the society by passing the resolution on the basis of majority. Thereafter the residents start suffering from radiations emitted by the mobile tower. Then working committee of the society are compelled by the pressure from residents to ask the tower company about the removal of the mobile tower. However the mobile tower company keeps its finger on the validity of contract of being for three years. In short even if residents suffer from any kind of illness, they have to suffer for minimum of three years. The mobile tower company is no way concerned about the health of the residents. “Health of residents” is nowhere mentioned in the lease agreements that are done between society & the company. The mobile company rudely insist that they are liable to pay rent and not for the health of the residents.
5. As is the normal practice followed by the medical practitioners about giving full idea of good/ bad (side) effects of their medicines, or the surgeons warning about dangers of an operation. In sharp contrast, the tower companies do not give any information about the radiation hazards probable due to tower. Hence residents are in dark about possible health hazards due to radiations emitted from mobile tower antenna. Common health problems are loss of sleep, continuous discomfort, severe headache, skin problems, hearing problem, bad effects on foetus of pregnant women etc. There is definite increase in number of cancer patients especially in the vicinity of mobile towers. However tower companies neither take cognizance nor responsibility of these complaints of various illnesses.
6. In suburbs or in small villages, a generator is in service during load-shading hours, which are as prolong as 7 to 8 hours. Mostly the generators are wrongly placed, resulting in louder noise. Due to lesser height of chimney, the exhaust of the generator enters adjoining houses. Citizens in neighborhood have to suffer from loud noise and the exhaust of the generator. Tower cabin has air conditioning unit. The cooling unit of the A.C. also adds to noise of the generator. Residents of such a site continuously live in disturbed state of mind.
Erection of mobile towers on top of residential buildings/ houses is in fact gross violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which guarantees life and liberty to citizens.
WHAT IS REQUIRED TO BE DONE:
Government of India/ government of Maharashtra state should make laws immediately to regulate erection of mobile towers. Following points should be included in the law:
1. Separate cell has to be established in local municipal bodies to hear out grievances regarding mobile towers.
2. Height of the tower has to be ensured to be more than 36 meters (120 ft) above human existence (& not from ground level), before granting permission. (Please refer to the report by Dr. N.K.Ganguly, Director General, ICMR, New Delhi dated 29.05.2006).
3. Permission/ NOC must be taken from each of the resident staying on top floor. They should be given full idea of possible health hazards and must have the power of “VETO”. Resolution for giving permission to mobile tower should not be given on the basis of majority.
4. In case of complaints about ill health from residents of the houses/ buildings on which tower is erected; tower must be immediately dismantled by the company. The reasoning of 3 years duration of agreement should not be considered. Responsibility of treatment of residents for their illness must be on mobile company.
5. Telecom Engineering center (branch of Indian Telecom Dept.) and I. C. N. I. R. P. (branch of I.H.O. Geneva) have given clear cut instructions that, mobile towers should not be erected in the vicinity of schools & hospitals.
( Hence mobile tower was not allowed on 43 acres of J. J. Hospital, Mumbai which has 50 buildings). Children stay in schools for 6 to 7 hours. And children stay at home for 17 to 18 hours. In addition, there may be some or other pregnant lady in any of the houses in a residential building. Then why mobile towers are erected on residential houses/ buildings. This clearly indicates that, tower companies do not bother about citizen’s health. MOBILE TOWERS MUST NOT BE ERECTED ON ANY RESIDENTIAL HOUSE/ BUILDING, SCHOOL OR HOSPITAL. Women should come forward in this issue.
6. Mobile tower should not be erected unless all people staying in area, one and half times the height of the mobile tower, are assured of safety, and give no objection certificate to that effect (Please refer to circular no.: 1806, dated 7.8.2007 issued by Urban Development Dept., Mantralaya, Mumbai.
7. Radiation from Mobile tower MUST be measured by third party “radiation auditors” (like safety auditors). And the radiation levels particular area should be made public.
8. Before granting permission for any new mobile tower & allied equipment, no objection certificates from structural engineers, pollution control board, electricity board, fire brigade, local police station must be taken by the mobile company. Without these NOCs, permission for erection of mobile tower should not be granted.
RESPONSIBILTY OF THE CITIZEN:
Citizens must pressurize local administration, local self governing institutions to make LAWS for regulating erection of mobile tower. Filing “Public Interest Litigation” is also an alternative.
Citizens must protest in time as once deadly disease like cancer catches up, there is no use of making any protest afterwards.
Latur (M.S. India)