A day after the Rajasthan high court ordered relocation of existing mobile towers from around educational institutions, hospitals and playgrounds within two months, anti-radiation campaigners in Mumbai are demanding similar action.
While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) - which is at present revising its policy on installation of mobile towers in the city - has banned installation of new towers near educational institutions and hospitals, it has not been able to take any action on existing ones on account of a Bombay high court stay order.
"It is essential to take immediate action even in Mumbai," said Perin Bagli, principal, Activity High School located on Peddar Road, which recently launched a signature campaign to condemn the suspected health hazards posed by mobile towers located in its vicinity.
Even as there is no conclusive evidence on the direct correlation between electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation from mobile towers and health hazards, locals have complained about anxiety, headaches, dizziness, and tumours in extreme cases because of direct exposure.
"With more than 80% of the towers already operating in the city, what is the point in introducing norms for fewer towers that are yet to be installed?" said activist Jitendra Gupta, who has launched a group on Facebook to discuss the implications of radiation exposure. "The proposed norms should be applicable even to those seeking renewal."
Others said the judgement was a sign of hope. "The Rajasthan high court judgement echoes our sentiments. There is need for concerned officials to look at the issue in a retrospective manner keeping in mind the overall health of citizens," said Prakash Munshi, from Malabar Hill.
However, telecom industry officials were disappointed. "We are disappointed with the order and will determine the industry's future course of action once we have the formal order and have studied all details closely," said Rajan Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). "The industry has always complied with norms related to exposure limits and will continue to work actively along with the government to ensure that compliance is maintained," he said.