North Delhi corporation puts ‘cell towers on wheels’ plan on hold after opposition from residents
With complaints pouring in from residents and municipal councillors about the cellular towers on wheels, the remunerative projects cell of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation issued directions to all deputy commissioners on September 20 to put on hold installation of any new cellular tower in its jurisdiction till a review is undertaken.
The order issued by the section officer of remunerative projects cell highlights that most of these complaints state that the sites for installation of ‘cell on wheels’ are located in the middle of colony or on a very small municipal park and many of the proposed sites are in close proximity of residential areas. “All sites of CoW will be reviewed by the concerned zonal deputy commissioner in consultation with RWAs and public representatives,” said the order. The zonal officers have also been asked to submit a detailed report after the review exercise, proposing alternate locations preferably within 500m from the allocated site.
Yogesh Verma, chairman of Keshavpuram zone and former leader of the house in the north corporation said that over 200 cells on wheels have been installed after the new mobile tower policy was introduced last year.
“We can understand that there is no scientific evidence to prove that these towers impact the health of people living around them but we cant be rigid about public sentiment. All such new installations have been stopped now and review will be carried out to find nearby locations, which are away for human settlement,” he said.
Verma added that mobile connectivity is also necessary and a mid-way solution needs to be found. Last year, the Cellular Operator Association of India stated that Delhi would require additional 14,000 towers by 2024 to resolve connectivity issues.
The issue of growing resistance to cells on wheels is not just restricted to north Delhi. Last month, more than 56 resident welfare associations (RWAs) in south Delhi also petitioned the south corporation on problems regarding the new mobile cellular towers while demanding a more consultative process to fix the locations.
According to experts, there is no conclusive scientific evidence to prove that the electromagnetic radiation from cellular mobile towers causes health hazards.
Ruby Makhija, secretary of Navjiwan Resident Welfare Association, one of the petitioners said, “We are aware of the studies that state mobile towers are safe but a large number of residents are concerned about the possible impact of mobile tower radiations. There should be sustained effort to raise awareness and consultative process should be undertaken to find a suitable location,” she said.
Makhija added that they have been resisting the installation of cell on wheels tower since August 23. “120 residents signed against the installation while only 2-3 residents were in favour. SDMC guidelines state that NOC is required from RWAs in DDA flats and group housing societies, then why are we being discriminated?,” she asked.
Bhavreen Kandhari from Defence Colony said residents have submitted a petition in the court against the installation of cell on wheels tower in the central park in Defence Colony. “The installation was stopped and the erected structure has remained on the park premises. Parks should be left alone as these spaces are used by children and elderly. We are aware about the studies but do not want to take any chances,” she added.