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The Health Risks of Mobile Towers
Radiation from mobile phone handsets and towers, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), is “probably carcinogenic to humans” and may cause glioma, a form of brain cancer. Mobile towers can be more harmful than mobile phones because of their higher intensity and consistency of radiation.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a technical report based on the findings of studies conducted between 2008 and 2018, indicating that there was insufficient evidence to support a causal link between RFR exposure and tumor development.
Living near cell phone base stations exposes people to relatively low levels of non-ionizing radiation, according to the UK Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation, and the evidence suggests that they are unlikely to pose a health danger. Experts, on the other hand, argue that there aren’t enough well-controlled trials to draw any firm conclusions.
Although the industry has long claimed that there is no scientific evidence that cell tower pollutants cause cancer, some scientists contend that they can cause swelling in the brain and ears, headaches, hearing loss, and anxiety neurosis. Children and patients are particularly vulnerable to their effects.
Living near cell towers, according to health experts, is no different than being surrounded by lead, DDT, chloroform, or gasoline exhaust. As a result, increased installations continue to be seen in Indian cities, often in residential areas and closer to educational and health institutions.
India adopted the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) recommendations on radiation exposure in 2009 and continues to do so. These recommendations, on the other hand, did not take into account the biological effects of cell tower radiations and only addressed safety from short-term gross heating effects.
The financial advantages of cell towers on residential structures
With a drastic rise in the number of subscribers, telecom operators have been forced to expand their coverage and are eager to add towers in suburban areas in order to provide better services.
For two reasons, they almost never face resistance to expanding their presence in suburban areas. For starters, because of the monetary benefits offered by telecom providers, people continue to endorse the installation of towers. Second, in addition to earning monthly rents that can reach lakhs of rupees, housing societies that allow cell tower installations are given benefits from service providers such as free internet and phone service. From a purely financial standpoint, it makes complete sense for a landlord or housing society manager to sell the premises to telecommunications companies for the construction of mobile towers. In doing so, little thought is given to the potential health risks that base station antennas can pose.
Is it permissible to construct cell towers in residential areas?
Companies are free to build mobile towers in residential areas if they have the consent of the residents and have a structural safety certificate from a designated institute, local authority approval, and sign an indemnity bond specifying that they will be responsible for any losses or injuries incurred by the tower. This is due to the fact that the legislation does not prohibit them from entering residential areas. Companies only need to make sure the tower isn’t built within a 100-meter radius of hospitals or educational institutions. Despite the fact that the guidelines state that companies should favor forest areas for cell tower construction, they make no explicit prohibitions on service providers expanding their networks in densely populated areas.
How would you prevent the construction of a cell tower in a residential area?
If a tower is constructed and run by the corporation without the required permits, the citizens must report it as soon as possible. For example, the Gurugram department of town and country planning sealed four illegal mobile towers in January 2021 after receiving a complaint from Mapsko Casa Bella society in Sector 82. Without the approval of the department, the towers were built and run in a building intended for the economically disadvantaged (EWS).
During a raid in March 2021, Faraskhana police in Pune confiscated 26 mobile network boosters and deactivated another 27. During the raid, the police deactivated illegal cell signal repeaters that had been mounted in houses, stores, and other commercial establishments.
If your Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) has approved a mobile operator to build mobile towers in order to collect rents, you can petition the local authority — the sub district magistrate or joint commissioner in your district — to get the installation stopped, citing the mental and physical effects of such a move. It would only help if you have the assistance of other members of the housing society and file a joint complaint with the authorities.
After residents protested for over a year, the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation demolished a mobile tower in Fragrance Garden, Sector 26 in 2020. Despite the fact that the estate office had not granted permission for its construction, the company designed the mobile tower. The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, on the other hand, had given a no-objection certificate for the mobile tower two months after the UT estate office had written to the additional commissioner, requesting action against the operator.
You may even file a complaint with the Green Tribunal to prevent the construction of cell towers. After residents filed a complaint with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the construction of a mobile tower in an apartment building in Vasundhara Enclave, the NGT ordered the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation to investigate the matter and take appropriate action.
The NGT also directed the Bihar State Pollution Control Board to develop guidelines for the construction of cell towers and their harmful effects in September 2020. Communication towers can only be built on a commercial building or vacant property, according to the Bihar Communication Tower and Related Structure Rules, 2012. These towers cannot be built within a 100-meter radius of schools, universities, or hospitals.
Notice that, in addition to upholding their stance that there is no proof that electromagnetic radiation from cell towers causes emissions or poses a health risk, telecom companies have previously challenged the NGT’s authority to hear such complaints.
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