Somit Sen & Bhavika Jain, TNN Jan 16, 2014, 04.55AM IST
MUMBAI: Even as the BMC is refraining from taking action against cell towers covered under a court stay, the order has not stopped telecom operators from increasing number of antennae on the mobile towers.
Recently, an Andheri resident, filmmaker Uday Shankar Pani, had to shift from his plush four-bedroom house near Four Bungalows to a rented apartment in Versova after the number of antennae on a cellphone tower atop a neighbouring building was increased.
"Initially, there were two antennae on it. They have now gone up to 18. My daughter, whose bedroom faces the building on which the tower is located, was getting affected and would be unwell all the time," said Pani.
The Panis complained to the housing society and the BMC. But no action was initiated on the network provider as the tower is covered by the Bombay high court stay. Pani said neighbouring buildings, including a school, have signed letters protesting against the tower, but the society where the tower is located has not taken any action.
"The BMC should act against such blatant violations of the court order. Though the network operator has violated rules, no action is being taken against it," said Pani.
A source said that the Bombay high court's stay on mobile towers is actually for the "cell tower sites". "So, if there is a stay on a particular cellphone tower, it means the stay is applicable to the site where the tower is located. So, even if there are additional antennae, one cannot trespass on the site and remove them," he claimed.
Consumer rights activist Mahalingam Balaji, who is a member of NGO Surakshit Vatavaran Charitable Trust, said that a no-objection certificate of those staying in the vicinity of a cellphone tower should be obtained before installing any additional antenna. He said that his organization had prepared an e-petition on cellphone towers and the need for an independent regulatory body, and will send it to the Prime Minister soon. "You can check our petition on our website," he said.
Activist A V Shenoy said bunching of antennae was a serious issue in Mumbai, which has a high population density. "Every mobile company will claim it has installed one antenna. But if you look at it collectively, you will find that five different companies have installed their antennae on the same building. This increases the radiation levels," he pointed out.
Anti-radiation activist Prakash Munshi said that "an increase in number of antennae will lead to increase in power output, which in turn will increase radiation risks in the neighbourhood". Balaji demanded that authorities be more transparent and provide a list of every antenna installed along with the radiation levels online so that those staying in vicinity know the power output of each antenna.