The civic body’s draft policy on the installation of mobile phone towers in the city has generated a debate among anti-radiation campaigners and telecom experts, who have pointed out certain loopholes in its provisions.
For instance, the draft policy states that no mobile tower shall be allowed on any building within three metres of schools, colleges and hospital buildings.
“This proposed distance is inadequate and can have serious effects on children and patients who are directly exposed to the radiation,” argued Jitendra Gupta, a Kurla-based activist. “The purpose of this provision is defeated, unless a safe distance of at least 100 metres is maintained between the tower and the school or hospital building.”
Residents have also objected to the need to get the assent of at least 70% of residents in order to revoke the license of an existing mobile tower, as per the policy. “Residents of the top floors of the buildings, who are directly affected by the radiation, need to be heard on priority basis while revoking the licence,” said Prakash Munshi, a Malabar Hill resident. Experts said the lure of high rents would also make it difficult to revoke the licence.
The draft policy has been prepared in accordance with the guidelines proposed by the union Department of Telecommunication (DoT), and will be cleared in the BMC general body meeting. “We are strictly adhering to the guidelines proposed by DoT. We are not contesting or contradicting the suspected health hazards posed by exposure to radiation,” said Sitaram Kunte, municipal commissioner, who met officials from Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) earlier this week.
Meanwhile, with regard to the 1,830 mobile towers in the city deemed “illegal”, Rajan Mathews, director general, COAI, said,“Operators have submitted necessary paperwork and fees, but the BMC has either not accepted the applications or not processed them in a timely manner, and termed them illegal.