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Congress lok Sabha member Milind Deora is an active campaigner against EMR. He says enforcement is an important factor in curbing EMR. “if the government can make restaurants free of smoking and keep drivers from using cell phones while driving, i am sure they can enforce the guidelines on cell phone towers as well,” he says.
“Cell phone towers in residential areas must be prevented. Cell phone companies must be barred from airing advertisements showing a pregnant woman holding a cell phone to her belly. instead, these companies must clearly and visibly advertise the harmful effects of EMR from cell phones and cell towers. The argument that cell phones are needed for development is no argument. Who wants development when they have brain tumour?” Deora says.
The danger is escalating also because india depends on telecom companies to self-regulate. This is low motivation for those frenzied about profit. For instance, even in desperately poor areas of Bihar, the billboards are entirely those of telecom companies seducing people to talk more on the cell phone. So, public safety is apparently not a priority area yet for telecom companies.
SO MUCH SO that the industry doesn’t even like talk of EMR. Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance did not respond to queries. And, NK Goyal, Chairman Emeritus of the Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association and founder of the Communication Manufacturer’s Association of india, was sceptical. “What is the proof that the electromagnetic radiation you have detected (in the TEHELKA survey) has come from the cell phone towers?” he asked. “Such radiation can be emitted from a microwave oven too.” He had nothing more to say. it is true that EMR can come from household appliances, FM radio equipment and television transmitters. But, they were not seen in the areas where the TEHELKA readings were taken. There were only cell phone towers.
Because of the proliferation of towers, marketplaces in Delhi are mostly risky zones. Of the 15 markets surveyed, only one is within safe limits: Yamuna Bazar near the ISBT. Three are borderline areas: DlF Mall Vasant Kunj, and South exten sion i and ii. Four are unsafe zones: PVR Saket complex; Select Citywalk Mall, Saket; INA Market; Okhla vegetable market. Seven are extreme radiation zones: Khan Market, Connaught Place, Hauz Khas market, Yusuf Sarai market, M-block market, Greater Kailash II, PVR Priya complex, Vasant Vihar, and Jangpura market.
Of late, the MCD has begun to seal unauthorised cell phone towers. The MCD found 2,952 of the 5,364 towers under its jurisdiction unauthorised. But, they are largely unauthorised on commercial grounds, not for the health risk they pose. The MCD levies Rs 5 lakh and an operator may install a tower if he pays up. However, minimal stipulations on radiation are beginning to be enforced.
As for Dastur, you can’t talk to him on his cell phone anymore. He receives text messages and calls back from his landline. The ‘half paisa a second’ calls are not for him. One of Delhi’s first users of the cell phone is also one of the first to stop doing so.
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