Complaints have been lodged to BMC by the residents of Galaxy Heaven at Juhu, Mumbai. Led by the famous Bollywood singer Sukhwinder Singhe, who owns two floors of the luxury apartment, the residents had protested against the nearby mobile phone towers that were supposedly the cause of their intolerable headaches, hearing problems and nausea, due to the electromagnetic radiation it was emitting.
“I have support of eight families, and we will not rest till these towers are removed. Maut ka samaan hain yeh. Several residents are suffering from health problems, and we are certain that exposure to radiation from the towers is responsible for our woes. If we don’t act fast, we may end up with life-threatening ailments,” Sukhwinder said.
He said the 10-storey building’s terrace houses at least six mobile phone towers, and 18 antennae.
Residents of neighbouring apartments had also complained of sicknesses due to the mobile phone towers. One of the residents, a professional doctor, was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain tumor. And three other elderly occupants with cancer.
The occupants of Galaxy Heaven had discovered that their whole terrace had been scattered with mobile phone towers when they had complained of health issues. “The builder has the rights to give out the terrace to mobile service providers, but he never bothered to inform the residents. He has installed generators inside a small room on the terrace, because of which the building experiences vibrations,” Sukhwinder said.
The guidelines drawn by the BMC state that only two mobile phone towers can be put up in the area, that too with the permission of the residents. The Network providers should also obtain a no-objection certificate from the society and the consent of 70 percent of the occupants. The guidelines further state that for two antennae, the neighbouring buildings should be 35m away.
“We were shocked when the builder recently allowed more antennae to come up. That’s when we launched the protest,” Sukhwinder said.
An occupant on the 9th floor, Sameer Dogra, a professional pilot, expressed worry over his pregnant wife and mother. “Both have been complaining of constant headaches. We can’t take any chances… the towers have to go,” Dogra said.
While Sukhwinder has been residing at Galaxy Heaven for over three years, most of the occupants moved in around a year ago. Vikas Mohan, a 10th floor resident said, “One of our members suffered hearing loss, and my family too has been complaining of headaches and insomnia. It is obvious that radiation from the mobile phone towers is responsible for this.”
The developer, Bablu Barudgar, said that the profits from the mobile phone towers were being used to fund the maintenance of the flat. “I have been paying for the building’s maintenance for the last four years, and the residents haven’t contributed a penny. Let them start paying maintenance charges and we will gladly remove the towers,” he said.
BMC, however, said the building’s history implied that the developer was misusing the terrace. “As per our records, we found that the developers don’t have permissions to allow mobile phone towers on the terrace. A survey of the building has been completed, and the developers will be issued show cause notice,” Deputy Municipal Commissioner Vijay Balamwar said.
The builder of Galaxy Heaven stated that the building is yet to be issued an occupation certificate, and all residents are technically tenants. “The so-called complaint letter they sent me had only five signatures. The rules say the towers have to be removed if more than 70 per cent residents object. As far as BMC notice is concerned, I will respond when I get one,” Barudgar said.
Experts say mobile phone towers emit microwaves at a frequency of 1900 MHz. Recent research shows that the strong radioactivity from cell towers have adverse effects on every biological organism within one sq km.
According to the Bioinitiative 2012 report, brought out by 29 independent scientists and health experts from across 10 countries, India’s radiation emission limit – 450 milliwatts per sq mt – was too high. The report said exposure to high levels of radiation can lead to headaches, limited attention span, behavioural problems in children, and insomnia.
The conclusion of BMC’s Mobile tower policy reduces the number of mobile phone towers to two per building, and forbids towers from coming up at schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages, child rehabilitation centres and old age homes.