Distress call: Residents seek review of BMC draft policy on cellphone towers

Societies submit letter to municipal commissioner against haphazard installations.

Mumbai, especially the south of it, has risen against the menace of cellphone tower radiation.

Opposing a BMC policy draft released last month, resident associations in Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Pedder Road, Carmichael Road, Malabar Hill, Warden Road, Cumbala Hill, Worli and Bandra have made a slew of demands.

They have sought a review of the draft policy and said there should be no ban on entry of society members to terraces with such towers and the towers should be installed on tripods at a safe distance from children and others using terraces.

The suggestions have been submitted to the civic body.

After actress Juhi Chawla started a campaign against rampant installation of cellphone towers, filmmakers Farhan and Zoya Akhtar have joined the fray and signed a letter containing the suggestions.

The letter demanding that the civic body not adopt the new regulations till a final draft is okayed by residents was submitted to BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte Thursday.

"BMC cannot ban entry of society members to terraces. Members use terraces for walks, exercise and children play there for want of grounds in Mumbai. Mobile phone companies should install tripod towers on terraces of tallest buildings at a height of 20 to 30 metres on which a maximum of two antennae are fixed, safe and away from children and society members using terraces. The distance between buildings around the two antennae should be minimum 50 metres (instead of the present 35)," says the letter.

The societies demanded the policy must be reviewed by the fire brigade to prevent "fire hazard due to electrical cabling done in a haphazard manner" by cellphone companies.

"Cellphone antennae emit non-ionising radiation similar to microwaves. The fact that the ear and head get heated up after a long conversation on a cellphone is indicative. Cellphone towers are constantly emitting these waves and people in the vicinity are always under threat," said Anand Gokani, senior physician at Bombay Hospital and a signatory.

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