This Janmashtami Break Mobile Towers, Not Matkas
The popular belief is that change starts within your local community. Unfortunately the same can also be true of more unfortunate events. Such was the case when my family and I saw a mobile tower being constructed on the rooftop of the building adjacent to ours.
If the adverse effects of mobile phones weren’t bad enough, the radiation from mobile towers has been linked to cancer among other life-threatening diseases.
— Saanya Gulati (@BombayDelhiGirl) August 14, 2015
The minimum distance that one mobile tower (1 antenna) must maintain from a building is 35 metres. This tower was less than 20 metres away. What’s worse, is that it was being constructed on top of a mandir (temple). If there’s anything worse than the corrupt corporate-political nexus, it’s a corrupt religious-corporate-political triangular nexus.
On digging a little deeper, we found out that the company commissioned to build the tower is Indus, which is a joint venture between *surprise* Airtel, Vodafone and Aditya Birla Telecom. (One of the rare occasions you hear those 3 names together without being referred to as competitors).
What action could we as mere residents take, if this mobile tower was indeed being illegally constructed so scarily close to our house? Turning to our good old adage of starting change locally, we spoke with our building society to discover that they had indeed raised the issue with the concerned division of the DoT (Department of Telecommunications), and submitted a complaint to the BMC (BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation). The concerned authorities had in fact stopped the work, for which our building had a letter declaring the activity as illegal.
So, despite the law prevailing, or so it seemed, how was Indus continuing the work on this tower? This, we were told, was a clever tactic that they adopted around public holidays and long weekends, because they know that even if residents were to complain to the authorities, there would be a time-lag in having the work shut down. Sure enough it was Parsi New Year the next day. Come Independence Day, I saw three men working on the tower. The mantra is ‘the more inefficient the government is, the more efficient we will become.’ Talk about beating the system!
While our battle continues, what’s more disturbing is that an estimated 1,800 mobile towers do not comply with the prescribed safety norms. In South Mumbai’s Usha Kiran building, 3 cases of brain tumour have been attributed to the mobile towers installed on the rooftop of the adjacent building. Similarly, in Khotachiwadi at least 3 families living near a cell-phone tower have members suffering from cancer.
When I looked out of my window today, and saw a group of people on the mandir rooftop, my instinctive reaction was that ‘The construction workers are back!’ And it’s even a public holiday: Janmashtami. But a closer glance revealed that they were actually devotees celebrating Lord Krishna’s birthday, preparing to form a human pyramid for the matki phod (breaking the earthen pot.) ‘Why don’t they break the mobile tower, instead?’ I thought.
P.S: If you have more information on shutting down illegal mobile tower, please write to me!
P.P.S: If you want to read more about the phenomenon of illegal mobile towers and their health hazards, refer to these articles in FirstPost and The Hindu. You can find also the Telecom guidelines here.