Companies & Sectors
'No new mobile towers without fulfilling mandatory provisions'

Considering gravity of allegations levelled and health hazard likely to be caused, the National Green Tribunal has said that no construction of cell phone communication towers shall be made without following mandatory provisions of law and necessary permission from competent authority

New Delhi: Concerned over the health hazards likely to be caused by cell phone towers, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has restrained several telecom companies from setting towers without following mandatory provisions of law and taking permission from the competent authority, reports PTI.


"Considering gravity of allegations levelled and health hazard likely to be caused, we direct that no construction of cell phone communication towers shall be made without following mandatory provisions of law and necessary permission from competent authority," a NGT bench of Acting Chairperson Justice AS Naidu and expert member PC Mishra has said.


Issuing notice to the Ministry of Communications and IT, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Ministry of Health, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and telecom companies -- Bharti Infratel Ltd, Airtel, Idea, Vodaphone, Tata, Reliance and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), the NGT has sought their response by the next date of hearing on 20th December.


The tribunal's order came on the plea of Delhi resident Arvind Gupta, who has sought directions to the Centre and the telecom firms for implementing guidelines and regulations issued by MoEF regarding installation of cell phone towers nationwide.


In his application, filed through advocate BP Tripathy, Gupta has alleged that MoEF guidelines have not been followed and implemented by Department of Telecommunications while allowing installation of towers throughout the country.


He has also alleged that "norms are flouted brazenly by all companies involved with installation of mobile towers, having complete disregard and concern for environmental protection".


He has alleged that radiations emitted by towers not only adversely affect flora and fauna, but can also cause cancer in human beings.


Gupta has alleged that the Centre and telecom firms have not devised rules and guidelines for implementing existing regulations pertaining to installation of telecom towers so that environmental exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted by them will be minimised.


In his application, he has sought constituting of a high powered committee of experts to lay guidelines for limiting cell phone tower radiation before installing any new towers.


He has further sought directions to market regulator SEBI to restrain it from granting permission to any company to invite investments from general public for installing cell phone towers for private profits, saying it will lead to "irreparable environmental damage and health hazards to human lives...".


The applicant has also sought transfer of all the cases related to mobile tower radiation from the high courts to NGT.


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US insurance schemer pleads guilty to fraud and identity theft

Joseph Caramadre made a profit dealing in insurance products that paid out when someone died. He said he paid the terminally ill to participate, creating win-win deals. Now, he's pleaded guilty to fraud and identity theft

In a trial closely watched by the insurance industry, Rhode Island attorney Joseph Caramadre and his former employee Raymour Radhakrishnan pleaded guilty today to charges that they conspired to steal the identities of the terminally ill.


ProPublica wrote about Caramadre's scheme last August in "Death Takes a Policy." He recruited the terminally ill to sign up for products such as variable annuities and bonds that, upon the death of participants, could pay out handsome benefits to Caramadre, his family members and outside investors. Acting on Caramadre's behalf, Radhakrishnan signed up the people whose deaths would trigger the benefits.


In interviews with ProPublica before the trial, Caramadre described the scheme as a win-win. Caramadre or his investors put up the money and reaped the reward, but he paid the terminally ill several thousand dollars or more to participate. They themselves usually could not afford the annuities and bonds he purchased. In Caramadre's view, he was offering money to the needy that they had not expected to receive. Some family members of the terminally ill agreed, while others felt exploited.


The two men pleaded guilty to identity theft and wire fraud, two counts in a 66-count indictment a grand jury returned against them last year. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors will not ask for more than 10-year sentences for each man. Ultimately, it will be up to the judge's discretion how much prison time they receive. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 8.


As part of the plea agreement, Caramadre and Radhakrishnan agreed that the object of the scheme was to defraud the insurance companies and bond issuers. The two men did so by obtaining the identity information of terminally ill individuals through false explanations as to why their signatures were required. They also took steps to prevent the terminally ill from understanding the documents they were signing. In some cases, the signers never even saw the full documents to which Caramadre attached their signatures.


As part of the bond purchasing part of the scheme, the two men opened a brokerage account with T.D. Ameritrade. They transferred $280,000 into the account, which constituted wire fraud, according to the plea agreement.


"This is a significant case of identity theft on a grand scale," says Jim Martin, a spokesman for the United States Attorney in Rhode Island.


In remarks outside the court house, U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha told the Associated Press that "today's message is that greed is not good."


A spokesman for Caramadre released a statement that he "has made a decision that acceptance of this plea agreement is in his best interests and the best interests of his family."


The plea agreement came unexpectedly on the second week of a trial that was expected to last for months.



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