Vested interests behind opposition to cellphone towers, says COAI

Cellphone towers are facing maximum opposition in Mumbai and Delhi, with approximately 120 and 110 leases cancelled or not renewed.

"The number of cellphone towers whose lease agreements have not been renewed or cancelled is rising," said Rajan Mathews, director-general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

There have been five cancellations/non-renewals in West Bengal and 8-10 in Kerala.

An appeal against a Rajasthan High Court order to remove mobile phone towers in the vicinity of schools and hospitals is being heard in Supreme Court.

In Mumbai, a raging debate on the issue continues, with resident associations in Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Pedder Road, Carmichael Road, Malabar Hill, Warden Road, Worli and Bandra actively campaigning against the towers citing the hazard of radiation.

Mathews alleged the resistance to cellphone towers in Mumbai and other cities was due to groups with vested interests who wanted to sell products "offering protection against radiation".

"Unless there is a scare, the products will not sell. In Mumbai, there is a strong activist group and despite concerted efforts to address concerns, it has not yielded."

IIT Bombay professor Girish Kumar, whose daughter runs a company that offers shielding solutions, said there was an urgent need of better radiation norms in India. "I have maintained removing towers is not the solution, unless one is willing to live without mobile phones. I have always advised transmitted power should be reduced. Then, there will be no need for shielding solutions," he said.

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