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Mobile tower radiation fear grips Andheri colony

When Priya Aggarwal, 41, was detected with breast cancer in early 2007, she tried her best to make sure that it didn’t distract her son, Rohan, who was preparing for his Class 10 exams.

mumbai Updated: Feb 03, 2011 02:19 IST
Kunal Purohit

When Priya Aggarwal, 41, was detected with breast cancer in early 2007, she tried her best to make sure that it didn’t distract her son, Rohan, who was preparing for his Class 10 exams.

But the Andheri resident couldn’t hide the affects of chemotherapy. One day Aggarwal came out of the bathroom, only to find a devastated Rohan staring at her nearly bald head. “He would keep saying ‘Why my mother?’, but nobody had an answer,” said Aggarwal.

She isn’t alone. In the past five years, more than 15 housewives living in Sher-e-Punjab colony in Andheri (East) have suffered from various forms of cancer. Although there is no proof of a direct link, residents are drawing parallels between the appearance of the first cancer case and the installation of the first mobile phone tower in the society nearly seven years ago.

According to Aggarwal, when she was first detected with cancer, her flat was right below a mobile tower. The family then rented another house in the colony. However, that too had a tower, thus forcing the family to move yet again.

The colony, housing more than 100 buildings, has a cluster of at least 8-10 towers spread atop three buildings. All these cancer victims reside within a 500-m radius of those towers.

Dr Parminder Bindra (name changed), a practising homeopath, was detected with ovarian cancer in June last year. “I’ve lived in this colony for more than 20 years. In the past, there had been only one case of cancer. The fact that all these cases happened only after these towers came up, and that too in a radius of 500m cannot be a coincidence,” said Dr Bindra.

Sixty-two-year-old Gurinder Gill (name changed) was detected with breast cancer in October last year. “It has been a traumatic experience for me, shattering me completely,” said Gill, who is now undergoing chemotherapy.

However, the victims know there isn’t enough proof to prove a link between mobile tower radiation and cancer.

IIT professor Girish Kumar, who has been studying electromagnetic field radiations, has pored over the details and even taken radiation readings at Dr Bindra’s house. “My question to the critics is how do you prove that these cases are not because of mobile tower radiation? Why have all the cases happened in the same colony? All these cases fall in the axis of the cell towers’ radiation. Is that also a coincidence?” he asked.

Neha Kumar, who has been studying the biological effects of mobile phone towers, said, “All these women don’t have any family history of cancer. Plus, all of them are within a certain radius of those mobile towers. All this is not a coincidence.”

Dr Ranjeet Bajpai, radiation oncologist at Hinduja Hospital, admits there is a problem. "But, we need a sound mechanism which can establish a more direct cause-effect relationship. However, there are studies to show that cell tower radiation has led to different types of brain tumours,” he said.