Mumbai: Mobile tower fight gets political hue

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) sets up protest banners citing concern for residents’ health

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has got involved in the simmering mobile towers controversy at Andheri, Lokhandwala. Since more than a month now, the area has been buzzing with residents, against a proposed 4-G mobile tower, in the middle of Pramod Mahajan Garden.

The popular Pramod Mahajan Children’s Garden in Lokhandwala
The popular Pramod Mahajan Children’s Garden in Lokhandwala

The MNS put up banners near this garden on Sunday. The banners outline the hazards of mobile tower radiation and urge people to sign on the posters, as a sign of people power. Already there have been several residents who have signed under pictures of party supremo Raj Thackeray and Shalini Thackeray, the party’s general secretary.

The MNS banners at Lokhandwala near the Garden, urging residents to sign
The MNS banners at Lokhandwala near the Garden, urging residents to sign

Prashant Rane, ward president from the MNS of ward 55 (where Lokhandwala falls) says, “The locals approached Shalini Thackeray, the party general secretary who has taken up the cause. We will be distributing fliers soon, creating awareness about health hazards and taking up the issue with the BMC. We will also intervene in the Green Acres Building fight against radiation.” Green Acres is a building in Andheri. Several Green Acres residents have been protesting against a 4-G mobile tower at a club, which is very close to the building.

When we visited the site, we saw the Third Cross Lane at Lokhandwala buzzing as irked residents protested the installation of the 4G mobile tower. K P Malik, resident says, “I was one of the first people to realise that the mobile towers were being erected in the garden. It was December 30, and, many residents were out of town for the holidays or celebrating New Year. Being an engineer, I was very alert.”

Dhaval Kulkarni who has been at the forefront of the fight says, “We have acquired around 700-plus signatures of residents from the area and given a copy to the BMC and the Oshiwara police station. These towers are a threat to citizens, and the Mahajan Garden is the worst place to put them.”

Surjeet Dadiala, another core member of the fight says, “Our Third Cross Lane Association has been the caretaker of the garden since it was opened in 2008. We are not against digital advancement, but what use is progress when the future of our children is at stake and they are exposed to radiation that could destroy their health? We will fight to keep this garden radiation free.”

The Green Acres building residents nearby are also fighting the towers. Brinda Upadhyay, a resident says, "We have faced a similar problem. There is strength in numbers. Now we are combining with other residents to fight the evils of radiation and mobile towers which pose health hazards. There should be no towers anywhere, as they affect health adversely.”

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