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92730Only 2 cell towers per building , says BMC

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  • Pearl - Karmayog
    Nov 25, 2013
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      Only 2 towers per building, says BMC

      By Chaitanya Marpakwar

      Nov 10, 2012


      In a huge breakthrough that could considerably reduce the number of mobile phone towers in the city, the BMC will allow only two towers per building.


      The cap on mobile phone towers will be introduced within a month, top BMC officials said, and admitted that the existing guidelines were not “foolproof”.


      Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta said, “We will allow not more than two cell phone towers per building. The onus also lies on the housing societies, who should follow the civic body guidelines.”


      The BMC decision will be a massive relief for the residents of Mumbai, who face a far bigger risk of suffering radiation-related ailments because of the higher density of mobile phone towers in the city.


      There are more than 3,700 mobile phone towers in the city, of which around 1,800 are allegedly illegal.


      An IIT Bombay study done two years ago found that people living within 10 mts of cell phone towers receive 10,000 to 1 crore times more radiation than required for mobile signal strength.


      The recent research on the dangers posed by cell phone towers states that only 1 milli watt per sq mt is considered ‘safe exposure’, while the exposure limits to radio frequency fields in India go up to 9.2 watts per sq mt -- a huge climb compared to the permissible limits in other countries (3 in Canada, 2 in Australia, 1.2 in Belgium, 0.1 in China, and 0.02 in Russia).


      The decision to put a cap on the number of cell phone towers was taken at a general body meeting on Friday. Said corporator Vinod Shelar, “Citizens from across Mumbai have been writing to the government and the civic body regarding the health risks posed by cell phone towers. There is no limit on the number of towers, as mobile phone companies are in the race to outdo each other. But nobody is thinking about the residents.” He said most of the high-rises host around five to six cell phone towers, which was “unacceptable”.


      Last year, actor Juhi Chawla and her neighbours had put up banners against mobile phone towers outside their building at Malabar Hill, when they failed to get a response from the State government regarding the radiation from cell phone towers installed at Sahyadri, the government guesthouse in the vicinity.


      A few days ago, the civic body made it mandatory for operators to maintain a distance of at least 36 mts from any surrounding residential building while installing new telecom infrastructure. On October 4, the DoT set upIndia ’s first complaint handling system in the city to measure radiation emitted from mobile towers.


      Activists welcomed the civic body initiatives, saying better late than never, while agreeing with Aseem Gupta that housing societies should give up on the greed to earn more.


      “Many housing societies host as many as six mobile phone towers for money. The cap will ensure they have to follow the guidelines,” said activist Prakash Munshi.


      Professor Girish Kumar from the Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Bombay said: “The cap is welcome, but there should also be regulation on transmission levels. Transmission is responsible for radiation.”