The West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) has ordered the state pollution control board (WBPCB) to investigate the state of the 400 odd residents of Karnani Mansion in Kolkata that has 40 communications towers installed on its roof. This came after attention to it was drawn by a city based rights group.
WBHRC chairman Ashok Ganguly has ordered an inquiry and has specified that a competent officer should visit the apartment complex. "We asked WBPCB to send a competent officer since the matter requires a pollution expert to judge the situation," said WBHRC joint secretary Sujoy Haldar.
"We conducted an internal inquiry after the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) registered a complaint on behalf of the residents facing health hazards as a result of radiation from mobile towers. Our registrar RN Sumanta felt the need for an expert investigation as most complaints seemed genuine," Haldar added.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Cellular Operators Association of India backed mobile operators and said WBPCB never issued guidelines for the location of the towers.
"We ensured that all towers were located at safe distances from residential apartments so people are not affected by radiation that emanates into the atmosphere and would not directly affect those staying at Karnani Mansion," A COAI official said.
However, APDR chose to stick to its version. "According to department of telecommunication guidelines, a tower should be located 35 metres away from a residential location but here, they are located within five feet of residential quarters," said APDR secretariat body member Ranjit Sur.