Herald: Coconut growers claim mobile towers affecting yield

Coconut growers claim mobile towers affecting yield

08 Nov 2017 04:56am IST
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08 Nov 2017 04:56am IST

Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai says the department will be asked to conduct in-depth study into the issue and recommend measures for the same

Team Herald

PANJIM: The rapid growth of the telecom industry and the massive expansion of mobile towers have hit coconut plantation owners, who claim the radiation has started affecting their plantations and the fruits.

However, the State government claims that the situation may be in isolated places and not affecting the entire State, while assuring to conduct detail study in this regard. 

According to some coconut producers and vendors, the installation of mobile and WIFI towers across Goa has affected their plantations. They claim that the size of the coconut has been shrinking drastically and so too the water content.

Horticulturist, Vivek Rao from Madkai said, “Since the mobile towers have increased, the yield of coconuts has reduced and the water inside the coconut is gone. The problem is that the trees get directly exposed to the beam of radiations because of the height of the tower. In some cases, I have heard that one side of the coconut has gotten brown and the other remained green.”

Horticulturalists claim that researchers from Kolkata’s Jadavpur University have indicated mobile tower radiation affects plants and vegetables as they have conducted tests on plants, fruits and vegetables by exposing them to radiation from cell phones.

“I am not just saying that but there has been research. In my farm I used to get a massive yield but currently over the last few years it has dwindled and I feel that the recent mobile tower installations in my area is the major factors and other owners will agree on this,” said Vinayak Raut, who owns a farm in Pernem.

Environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar supported this claim stating that there have been studies across the country on the impact of mobile tower radiation on coconuts. “I support this claim of the horticulturalists that the mobile tower radiation affects the coconut. In fact many famers from across Goa have told me that mobile tower radiations have affected the coconut plantation and also the yield,” Kerkar said.

Though hundreds of studies have investigated how radiation affects humans, there have been few studies on plants.

Speaking to Herald, Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR), Senior Scientist, A R Dessai said “We do not have any data or research to support this claim. There has been research on humans but till now there is no research on commercial plantations like coconut trees to support such a claim.”

“The yield of a tree in the vicinity of a tower goes down drastically and I have experienced it. For example, a lemon, mostly, contains water. When it continuously receives radiation, the water content is influenced and the fruit shrinks and becomes bitter. I visited one farmhouse in Maharashtra and the owner told me that there is 70 percent reduction in their lemons, after five cell towers were installed next to the farm. Also farmers here in Goa have reported that coconut trees are severely affected,” said Nagappa Munnoli, a coconut vendor.

Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardessai said that department will be asked to conduct in-depth study into the issue and recommend measures for the same. 

Sardessai said that one has to understand that development, growth and agriculture has to go hand-in-hand. “At the same time, in today’s world one cannot live without internet or mobile connectivity. It is not possible at all,” he said. 

While stating that blanket ban on installation of mobile towers is not possible citing coconut yield as an only reason, the Minister said that a proper policy has to be in place to regulate mobile towers. 

“Our government will take all kind of measures to increase and improve productivity of coconut in the State. Harvesting is the main issue for declining production and soaring prices. We are exploring to introduce high-yield, small size coconut plantation in the state,” he said. 
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