Thursday, March 20, 2014

Govt disallows cellphone towers on schools, colleges, hospitals

Mumbai: The state notification on mobile towers has emphasized that installation of cell towers will not be permissible within schools, colleges and hospitals in Mumbai and the rest of the state.
While activists have welcomed the government decision, they are not happy with the entire policy notification as they allege there are certain “loopholes”.
The notification indicates that “installation of base station antennae will not be allowed even on the adjoining land/building within 3 metres from the boundary of premises of schools, colleges and hospitals.” Also, antennae should not be directed/positioned towards any school, college or hospital, it states.
The notification, issued by the urban development department, also mentions that “the existing base station antennae approved earlier on any school, college or hospital building shall not be renewed further after the expiry of period of approval and the same shall be removed immediately thereafter”.
Anti-radiation activist Prakash Munshi said the rule on schools and hospitals was acceptable. “But there is no criteria to seek permission of top floor residents before installing a cell tower. Also, for permission of 70% occupants of the building, there is a word “or” mentioned in the notification. One of the clauses states that permission of the owner or the housing society or 70% of occupants in the building is required. We oppose this clause and only the permission of occupants should be sought.”
Regarding the ban on schools/ hospitals, telecom operators said there was no risk from cell towers being installed on these rooftops. “If not allowed, it will hamper connectivity and there will be call drops,’’ an operator said. The TERM Cell, Mumbai, has also written to the government, stating: “It is more practical to impose restrictions on the basis of radiation levels exceeding permissible limits instead of posing blanket restriction based on criteria of distances or type of locations (e.g schools/colleges).”
Munshi opposed the TERM cell’s letter and said the government should ensure that the distance criteria (for antenna and neighbouring building) should be enforced beyond 3 m from the school/hospital. “We have also demanded that the public grievance committee should be appointed at the earliest,” he added.
Information on rooftop antennae will have to be provided on the building’s ground floor—such as number of antennae, permissible EMF level, level, height and weight of tower, due date for renewal, etc.

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