TOI Kolkata, Jan. 25, 2013
Kids in radiation cauldron on Park Street
Cellphone Towers On Karnani Mansion Emit Nearly The Same Amount Of Radiation As A 500W Microwave,24x7
Subhro Niyogi TNN
Kolkata: Around 200 children many of them toddlers are living in a virtual microwave oven atop Karnani Mansion on Park Street.
Hemmed in by 40 cellular antennas that together transmit nearly 500 watt of power round-the-clock, the kids suffer constant headache, nausea, sleeplessness and fall ill with alarming regularity, say families who live in the complex. The terrace of Karnani Mansion houses 80 staff quarters with an average of five residents per dwelling.
Radiation experts warn that if the antennas are not dismantled, the children will develop chronic health problems, even cancer.
Four-year-old Divya Sardar twists and turns all night and becomes violently ill frequently. She is just back from hospital after a bout of diarrhoea. Shes been frail and sickly since birth. Theres not been a single days relief from headache, said her mother Rani.
It isnt just Divya who wakes up with a throbbing head. So do Joy Sardar (6), Ananya Sardar (8), Md Faiyaz Akhtar (9), Rahul Dubey (10) and all other children on the roof of the six-storied mansion. The headache is acute in the morning and late afternoon. I cannot concentrate in class and am always irritable, said Ananya, who has a strip of cloth tied on her forehead.
Every boy and girl here has headache. There is no respite even in school, said Faiyaz. Most of the kids study at Harrow Hall, located in Karnani Mansion.
Paediatrician Santanu Roy explains headache warned that prolonged exposure to radiation from cellular antennas is extremely harmful for children. The problem gets complicated with continued exposure over time as infertility, miscarriage and cancer is reported in larger numbers.
Girish Kumar of IIT-Mumbai,who has been working on cellular radiation for over a decade, says the 40 antennas installed (24 GSM and 16 microwave antennas belonging to all cellular companies) generate around 480 watt power round-theclock. Thats as much as a microwave oven that uses 500 watt. With 70% of the human body and 90% of the brain comprising fluids, such exposure is damning for health of children and adults, said Kumar.
While the Department of Telecommunication prescribes a minimum buffer of 35 metres between a tower with two antennas and a residential or work zone (40 m when there are four antennas and 70 m when 10-12 antennas); the men women and children on Karnani Mansions roof live and play within 10m of 40 antennas.
Rekha Rao, who moved to Karnani Mansion terrace after marriage five years ago, says she had never suffered from headache and swollen throat earlier. When I lived in Shibpur, Howrah, these ailments were not there. It happened only after moving here and I think these antennas have got something to do with it, she said.
Shanti Sardar, whose son Tapan died mysteriously a year ago, leaving behind his young wife Rani and daughter Divya, blames the antennas and the devices installed on the roof since 2006.
Ever since the antennas were installed, theres been health trouble in every family. Tapan used to sleep on the terrace and died in sleep one night. Most of the people living in the quarters are poor. We have no voice. If we protest, we face eviction, said Sardar.
Fatima Ghosh, a resident on fifth floor, does care and has raised the issue with the residents association. Those living on the terrace are poor and insecure, and hence, vulnerable to exploitation, she said in frustration.
Association president Murli Punjabi brushed off responsibility, saying the residents did not have any say as it concerned the resident and the cellular operators alone. Chander Karnanai, the proprietor, is undeterred. If there is medical proof that the antennas are affecting people and a formal complaint is made, I will think about removing it. Till then, it is a legitimate revenue stream, he said.
A senior official of a telecom firm felt no antenna should have been atop Karnani Mansion. You will find antennas atop only Karnani Mansion and Stephen Court, the two buildings that have poor management. There is none atop Queens Mansion or Park Mansion, he pointed out.
Rajan Mathews, DG of Cellular Operators Association of India, said: Antennas are not supposed to be installed next to living quarters. The matter should be brought to the notice of the Telecom, Enforcement, Resource & Monitoring cell of DoT.