Mumbai: Building residents fear radiation as illegal mobile towers mushroom

The multiple tower installations have left the 80-year-old building damaged

Residents of Kalbadevi’s Shakti Sadan building claim to be living in fear of being exposed to high levels of radiation as the number of illegal mobile towers on the residential building has increased from one in February to five in October. They also allege that the newly installed towers have left a crack on the building.

The mobile tower atop Shakti Sadan
The mobile tower atop Shakti Sadan

To voice their concerns, the residents filed a complaint against the ‘illegal’ towers at the C ward office earlier this year and continued to follow-up till last month. Authorities are yet to initiate any action to tackle the matter. The four-storied building, which is more than 80 years old, also accommodates nearly 15 antennas at its roof top.

Parasmal Rathode, who stays on the third floor of the building, says, “There was only one mobile tower in the building. But after February, it increased to five towers and hence, we are exposed to high levels of radiation. Also, in the process of installing thesetowers, one side of the wall cracked and got damaged.”

In 2012, the High Court gave a stay on the removal of mobile towers and taking advantage of the situation, mobile operators installed towers on buildings illegally, without seeking the permission of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). According to the civic body’s list of illegal installations of mobile towers in buildings, which is available online, the mobile towers at Shakti Sadan building are illegal.

The residents filed their first complaint in January 30 this year. Suresh Jain, another resident and the complainants’ advocate said, “If there is an ongoing case against mobile towers in court, how is it that new mobile towers are being installed? Last month, people came and installed a new tower. We filed a complaint at the C ward office, but authorities turned a blind eye.

Our main concern is the crack, as this may lead to the building’s collapse.” He also added that a part of the ceiling of his flat collapsed during the monsoon this year, although no one got injured. “We also have complaints of water leakage from the terrace ever since the wall got damaged,” he said.

As per DoT (Department of Telecom) guidelines, if a mobile tower has one, two, four and six antennas, the minimum distance to be maintained between the tower and a house is 20 metres, 35 metres, 45 metres and 55 metres respectively. According to the guidelines, no building should be parallel to the antenna and the height of the antenna should be at least five metres above the ground or roof top.

Also, according to BMC’s mobile tower policy, a company should seek the consent of at least 70 per cent of the residents before installing a tower. “There are many complaints regarding mobile tower radiation. I will find out about the permission and see why no action has been taken taken,” said Dr Sangeeta Hasnale, ward officer, C ward.

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