Herald: Illegal mobile towers cause distress to Canacona locals

Illegal mobile towers cause distress to Canacona locals

03 Jun 2016 06:07am IST
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03 Jun 2016 06:07am IST
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Illegal erection of mobile towers in Canacona taluka can cause health issues to people in close vicinity; Towers erected close to thickly populated regions; Farmers complain about poor crop yield due to radiation; Memorandum issued to demand action against illegal towers

The farmers of Canacona Municipality and the surrounding areas have requested the Deputy Collector and Chief Officers to take strong action against illegal mobile towers, which were detrimental to their coconut plantation and cause health hazards for people staying in close vicinity to them. 

“Every year, more and more illegal mobile towers are being erected in the taluka with the blessings of local representatives. These towers cause severe health hazards and are mostly located only in Canacona Municipality areas,” added Natidade Desa, a senior citizen from char rasta, Canacona. 

With regard to this issue, Patnem-Coumb Nagrik Samiti has submitted a memorandum to the deputy collector and chief officer and asked to demolish the recently erected illegal 4G tower (erected overnight) at Patnem which is in the midst of a thickly populated area with the help of some locally elected representatives. 

The 4G tower is very close to a nursery and a middle school in a thickly populated locality, according to the local panch who also added that no residents were taken into confidence before this was done. 

Speaking to Herald, Rama Gaonkar, a farmer from char rasta said, “Many erected mobile towers have destroyed our coconut trees. The yield of the trees has reduced in the last four years. The farmers were not aware of such kind of a disease earlier.” 

The farmers have also requested the Director of Agriculture to find out the exact cause of the destruction of their trees. Allegedly, the palms are found to be burned and growing in unnatural ways, while the tender coconuts fall much before they should.

The local zonal agriculture officer, Shivram Desai also admitted that the mobile towers have affected the production of coconuts in the last few years and a study is currently ongoing. 

Arvindra Desai, another leading coconut grower from the area said, “The production of coconut has reduced by more than fifty percent. The erection of these illegal towers needs the immediate attention of the government so that a further loss for us can be prevented.”

Some councilors suggest that most of these towers are erected without obtaining necessary licenses, thus causing a huge loss to the exchequer. According to Canacona Municipality office sources, out of a total of nine towers in the area, only two are legal and others are functioning without licences. 

Local doctor Divakar Velip has alleged that the constant electromagnetic radiation from the communication towers could lead to cancer and cause neurological, cardiac, respiratory and ophthalmological disorders.

“With the number of mobile phone users increasing exponentially, service providers have put up transmitters even on the tops of dilapidated buildings at Chaudi and Char Rasta, thus posing a danger to citizens,” said Stanley Gracias, an ex-councillor. 

Many people are happy about the fact that technology is reaching their doorstep but are unaware that these towers are a serious health hazard.  Doctors have said that it is time to introspect and study the problems that people could face from living too close to mobile phone towers. 

Scientist Raman K R, who has conducted vast research on the subject said, “There are two effects – thermal and non-thermal. A person will fall prey to a thermal effect due to radiation only if he is close to a tower. Thermal effects would lead to symptoms like fatigue, cataract and reduced mental concentration. This occurs largely due to the amount of heat generated due to radiation.”

Talking about the non-thermal effects, he said, “Non-thermal effects affect people who are a distance from the tower. It could cause cell membrane permeability. This could also be caused due to radiation heat.”

Some Canacona residents have pointed out that it is the duty of the telecommunication department to impart knowledge about the ill-effects of such towers before constructing them close to residential areas. They have requested the Chief Officer of the council to conduct a workshop on the issue. 

The memorandum issued to the Deputy collector and Chief Officer also said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that in its analysis, the mobile towers are dangerous to health and that service providers from the companies are fooling locals saying that they are safe. 

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