Citizens' Issues
Pune citizen fights for 3 years to remove illegal mobile towers
Using RTI to nail that two mobile towers at a distance of 90 feet from his housing society were illegal, Suresh Karve got the Pune Municipal Corporation to demolish the towers
 
Suresh Karve, a 67-year old resident of Pune City Hindu Municipal Servants Co-Operative Society, an upper middle class bungalow society in Deccan Gymkhana, discovered in 2012 that two mobile towers had been erected about 90 ft distance from his house. He suspected that these were illegal. However, he empowered himself on the use of Right to Information (RTI) Act to get all the information about these towers and then doggedly pursued the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co Ltd (MSEDCL) for three long years, through constant written and telephonic communications and innumerable visits to both offices. Finally, in October 2015, the mobile towers were demolished by the PMC.
 
This is a story, which should inspire citizens to become aware of the dangers of radiation emitting from mobile towers, even though they may be within “permissible limits”. Karve says, “Please note that permissible limits are not necessarily biologically safe limits as biological ill effects like cancer have been reported at levels hundreds of times lower levels than the so called safe levels in India. The radiation level reading by TERM cell of DOT was 44mW/sq meter in this case but there were cases of breast cancer reported within 70ft radius of the tower.”
 
This story should also inspire citizens not to compromise on the safety of their own health and that of the future generation. Besides, most of the time the erection of these towers could be illegal too. Small-time builders in connivance with mobile companies are erecting mobile towers without legal permissions, thus jeopardising your health. It has been reported that in Pune alone, out of 2,500 odd towers, only around 150 are legal.
 
Karve said, “I was not even aware that the two mobile towers belonging to Vodafone Essar (BPL Cellular) and Idea Cellular were put up way back in 2006 as they were put along a narrow, five meter wide lane with thick tree cover. Sometime in 2012, I wondered why two residents of my housing society succumbed to cancer. While the doctors did not diagnose them to be victims of mobile radiation, I instinctively felt I should find out if we have a mobile tower in the vicinity, as I have been reading about dangerous side effects of having mobile towers in the vicinity.’’ 
 
And sure enough he found that not one, but two mobile towers exist within 70 to 80 feet distance of all the bungalows in the society where cancer cases were detected.
 
In order to find details of these mobile towers, he was advised to use the RTI Act.  His first RTI application made to PMC by a friend boomeranged as the PMC replied that “information cannot be given since the information sought is interrogative in nature.”
 
However, a subsequent RTI filed by Karve himself seeking copies of valid documents for the sanction of the mobile towers revealed that the PMC had not only not given any permission to build them; in fact, it was not aware of their existence. It required a building inspector of the PMC to visit the site. The builder was asked to submit the copies of relevant documents, which he never did. After which Karve began hunting for the file containing documents of the building with mobile towers in PMC area. The file was found in the shelf of the officer in charge of these permissions, but he had forgotten about it. Documents revealed that no application to the PMC for building mobile towers was made and no plan was sanctioned. They had been erected without any permission. The PMC assured Karve in writing that it would take appropriate action. However, nothing was done.
 
Karve, on behalf of his housing society, requested PMC to ask MSEDCL to cut off power supply to the two mobile towers as they were unauthorised and illegal. MSEDCL replied stating, “Electrical power supply can be cut off against any of the following three conditions: (1) court order (2) electrical inspector / an order by Industries, Energy and Labour Department, Building Construction Division Of PMC (3) in case of outstanding payment.”
 
Frustrated at this reply, Karve made an RTI application to MSEDCL to get further proof of the fact they were illegal and therefore, the reply given by MSEDCL was invalid. He filed an RTI seeking a certified photocopy of the documents against which the power connections were granted to the mobile towers. He received 111 pages of information which revealed that:
• The BPL Mobile and Idea Cellular companies and the builder/ developer had set up the two towers without taking the permission of the housing society; but showing as permission granted by the society by misrepresenting signatures of builder/ developer falsely as those of Chairman/ Secretary of the society (which was a criminal offence)
• The connection in the name of BPL Cellular was shown as domestic, which, in reality, was for commercial use.
• On 24 May 2007 – Idea Cellular had given an undertaking that if it does not get permission from the PMC within six months, the power connections may be disconnected. (However, six years down the line MSEDCL had not done so)
• It has shown that it had applied to the PMC on 18 May 2007, although in fact it had not applied at all.
• On 24 May 2007 – i.e. within six days, work order was given to Jayant Electronics to erect towers and work completed on 13 August 2007. It never waited for two clear months so as to claim deemed permission which they later claimed to be so No permission sought from PMC.
 
MSEDCL Chief Engineer’s internal circular later revealed that connection should be given only after completion of all the formalities but the rules were flouted and power supply was given and the mobile towers were erected.
  
Thereafter, Karve, on behalf of his housing society was continuously writing letters to PMC, asking it to direct the MSEDCL for cutting off the power supply, which PMC kept assuring that it would. Idea Cellular threw up its hands, saying a petition is pending with the Bombay High Court for regularisation of illegal towers and until then they are unable to let go off the towers, as these were a part of the list of 250 mobile towers which were included in the petition.
 
Karve sent a detailed letter to Law Officer, Legal, MSEDCL, through MSEDCL Kothrud branch, about his advice about disconnecting the power supply. He filed a RTI seeking a copy of the legal advice, if any. The information confirmed that the advice was “that power supply to the mobile towers to be disconnected in view of the understanding given by the company and failure in submission of NOC of PMC, the supply can be disconnected immediately.” 
 
Even then both the authorities were dilly-dallying.
 
The Maharashtra government issued a GR, tightening regulations for erection of mobile towers in March 2014. The PMC communicated to the telecom companies to get all unauthorised towers regularised in six months that is up to 4 September 2014 failing which unauthorised towers will be removed.
 
The PMC wrote to both tower companies that they have agreed to remove/ relocate the said towers and since they do not have the society’s NOC for the erection of towers and the power connection was obtained by misrepresentation and the construction was unauthorised, therefore under section 478 of MMC act it was mandatory for PMC to remove the towers. Even then, Karve had to persistently follow up with PMC officials to bring down the towers.
 
It took 19 months for the mobile towers to be demolished, after PMC finally took a call on bringing them down, which was in October 2015. Karve says, “It was very sad that a 50-year woman, who was residing in a flat just below the tower died of Leukaemia within seven days of removal of towers. May be she would have been saved had the towers been removed three years earlier.”
 
 
 

 

 

More on Cell Tower Radiation

 
According to a report from Daily Mail from UK, in 2007 Orange agreed to remove from a block of flats after seven residents were struck down by cancer. Other report from Mercola.com says, "Orange mobile phone company agreed to remove its cell phone mast -- dubbed the 'Tower of Doom' -- from the top of a five-story London apartment building after seven of its residents got cancer. The cancer rate among those living on the top floor, where residents from five of the eight flats were affected, was 20 percent -- 10 times the national average."
 
The mast, along with a second mast owned by Vodafone, was put up in 1994. Since then, residents have battled cancer, headaches and other health problems they say are caused by radiation from the masts. Three residents have died from cancer, while another four are still fighting the disease. (for more, read here)."
 
Nearer home in Mumbai, Bollywood star, Juhi Chawla and Prakash Munshi, have been campaigning for safer installations of mobile towers and safe use of mobiles. Their sustained campaigned compelled the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to remove 13 mobile towers, which were located at dangerous proximity to their neighbourhood Recently, Munshi gave a talk at a Moneylife Foundation event. Here are the details of his talk.
 
In an interview given to DNA newspaper recently, Prof Girish Kumar, an IIT Professor, who has been researching and campaigning against radiation through mobile towers, has stated, "the cases are mindboggling. Four cancer cases near Worli were reported on 5th, 6th and 7th floor of a building in 2014. On the seventh floor of the opposite building, multiple towers had been erected. While they were fighting against it, the four cancer cases became six. Eventually, they got the tower removed."
 
 

 

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COMMENTS

Murtaza S Tarwadi

8 months ago

kindly provide more information on pursuing the matter at Secunderabad Cantonment Board for knowing the legality and radiation levels of towers that is installed under 100 feet.

If the RTI format and name and address of relevant department are shared...concerned citizens can initiate campaign before our close kin and neighbors start dieing..

TIHARwale

8 months ago

Is the radiation from mobile towers and handsets safe?

Radiation from both mobiles and towers are safe because they are low energy, non-ionising radiation that can induce only thermal effects.

Does the mobile handset emit more radiation or mobile towers?

Exposure to radio frequency fields emitted by mobile phones is generally 1,000 times higher than from mobile towers.

Are mobile handsets safe?

In India, handsets are not allowed to emit radiation more than 1.6 watt/kilo, which is called SAR or specific absorption rate. This safety limit followed by India is far more stringent than norms followed by other developed countries.

Where else can humans experience radiation?

All electrical items like microwave ovens, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners and mixer grinders emit radiation.

How does India's safety standards compare with the rest of the world?

India's safety factor is 10 times stiffer than in 90 per cent countries that follow standards set by the International Commission on Non-ionising Radiation Protection.

Jaitley concerned over functioning of state-run banks: AIBEA

CH Venkatachalam said Jaitley expressed his concerns when a union delegation met him in New Delhi on Wednesday

 

Expressing concern over the functioning of public sector banks and appointments to top posts in such banks, union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said the government was making efforts to streamline the system.
 
In a statement issued here on Thursday, All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) general secretary C.H. Venkatachalam said Jaitley expressed his concerns when a union delegation met him in New Delhi on Wednesday.
 
Jaitley also spoke about the need to consolidate banks to protect the weak government banks, said Venkatachalam.
 
According to an AIBEA statement, the union members drew Jaitley's attention to the problems faced by the employees in associate banks of State Bank of India (SBI).
 
"We also conveyed our views about the need to delink associate banks from the SBI," the AIBEA leader said.
 
The five associate banks are State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Travancore and State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur.
 
The AIBEA submitted a memorandum to Jaitley on the issue.
 
On the issue of privatisation of IDBI Bank, the delegation told Jaitley that the main reason for the bank's problems was its huge bad loans.
 
The union urged Jaitley for a thorough probe in the matter and fixing of accountability.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
 

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Condition of injured crew member stable, says Jet Airways
The airline disclosed details about Chaphekar's health after the media reports claimed that she has been placed in a medically induced coma
 
The condition of Jet Airways' crew member who was injured in Brussels terror attacks is stable, the airline said on Friday.
 
"We have spoken to Dr. Steven at the hospital where the crew member, Nidhi Chaphekar, is under treatment. The doctor has confirmed that she is in a stable condition and not in coma," the airline said in a statement.
 
"She is resting and under sedation for her comfort," the statement said.
 
The airline disclosed details about Chaphekar's health after the media reports claimed that she has been placed in a medically induced coma.
 
Chaphekar, a mother of two from Mumbai, was among two crew members of the airline who were injured in Tuesday's bomb blasts that rocked Brussels' Zaventem airport and left more than 30 people killed.
 
A photograph showing the 40-year-old flight crew member of Jet Airways sitting dazed and bloodied, with her bright yellow uniform ripped, went viral soon after the airport blasts and become an iconic image of the attacks. 
 
Chaphekar's husband, who flew from Mumbai to Paris and travelled by road to Brussels, is at the hospital with her. 
 
Meanwhile, Jet Airways flew out the passengers who were stranded in Brussels after the attacks. Some passengers returned to Delhi early Friday, while others left for Newark from Amsterdam.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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