Monday, January 7, 2013

62, Kalpak Artek Apartments,
Kalelkar Marg,
Bandra (East),
Mumbai – 400 051

November 19, 2012

Shri. Sitaram Kunte,
Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai,
Mumbai – 400 001.

Sub.: Harmful Effects of Cell Towers

Dear Shri. Kunte:

From the newspaper reports I learn that MCGM is proposing new regulations to minimize harmful effects of cell towers. In this connection I would like to convey my views below for your kind consideration. Two Cell Towers on a Building Recently MCGM announced that it will permit a maximum of two mobile towers on any building. This statement is not very clear. A typical cell tower has some circular and some vertical rectangular antennas radiation from which is dangerous to human health. So municipality should specify the maximum number of such circular and rectangular antennas which can be mounted on a building. Instead, if Municipality restricts only the number of towers to two then each such tower can still have a number of antennas without any restriction. Then the purpose of restricting the towers to two per building, presumably to contain their harmful effects on human health, will be defeated. The vagueness in the present proposal only helps the phone companies. A building opposite our society has one tower on it. But this tower has a number of antenna units. So this single tower is more dangerous than two or more towers with lesser number of total antennas. If the MCGM wants to restrict to two Towers per building, irrespective of the number of antennas on them, then it seems to be only worried about the structural stability of the building and not much about their harmful effects on human health. As a Structural Engineering Consultant I can say that the towers seen on most buildings in Mumbai are small towers unlike standalone tall towers. They hardly weigh anything compared to the weight of the building (which is several hundred tonnes) and hence structural stability under vertical and lateral loads(wind/Earthquake) is an issue of very minor significance. But the phone company lobby seems to only highlight this minor issue to divert public attention from the main issue of health hazard caused by the antennas. I hope that the MCGM will give due consideration to the above and give clear guidelines for restricting the number of harmful antennas(not towers) on a building. Permission of 70% Members MCGM is planning to make it mandatory for cell operators to get consent of 70% of society members for erecting a tower on its building.

Actually, the residents most affected by the towers are the residents of the top floor of a building above which cell towers are mounted. Hence, permission of each such member should be mandatory before a cell tower is erected on terrace above his/her flat. Nod of 70% of the members of a society does not change the radiation from a cell tower from dangerous to non-dangerous levels. Obviously such health issues cannot be decided by majority votes. Whether the passive smoke suffered by nonsmokers in a restaurant is dangerous to the health of its occupants cannot be decided by a majority vote of the occupants. Even the passive smoke is indeed dangerous. The government has now realized this and has totally banned smoking in restaurants and other public places and has not left it to be decided by a majority vote. I am staying on top floor of a society which has three buildings of stilt + 6 floors (36 flats of which 6 are on top floor) and three buildings of stilt + 3 floors (18 flats). Thus, there are a total of 54 members of which mainly the six top floor residents are seriously affected by the radiation from antennas of cell towers of four companies mounted on the terraces of the 6 storeyed buildings. Other members are not affected and do not want to remove the cell towers considering the income earned from them. In such cases the operators will easily obtain nod of 70% of the society members and the six top floor members will continue to suffer health problem due to greed of other members. So the 70% rule will not solve the issue in most such cases. As mentioned above, there are also several antennas on top of a building opposite my residence which are a health hazard to my family. In such cases permission of not only the top floor residents of that society but also of residents of other buildings within a reasonable distance (35 to 100 mtrs. as decided by the experts) from the cell towers should be obtained by the operators. Prof. Girish Kumar has given me a report based on radiation readings taken by NESA in my flat due to cell towers on my building and on the building opposite my flat. He has reported that radiation levels are not below safe levels although lower than recent reduced levels specified by the central government. I have no alternative but to face the consequences of this radiation since I am not a member of society of the building opposite my flat and also it will be difficult to get 70% vote of members against cell towers erected in my society buildings. Unfortunately most members have little compassion for the health of affected members when weighed against income from cell towers. In USA landline phones are still used extensively while in India some people have stopped taking landline connection and use only mobile phones. The government should conduct a continuous propaganda asking people to use landline phones and use mobile phone only when absolutely necessary. This will help in minimizing radiation effects on persons due to cell phones and also reduce the requirement of the number of hazardous cell towers. I hope MCGM will consider various suggestions from public in depth before issuing new regulations.
With kind regards,
Vasant Kelkar

CC: Shri Assem Shelar, Additional Commissioner,
MCGM CC: Shri Vinod Shelar, Corporator,
MCGM CC: Shri Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister, Maharastra

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