Mumbai: Walkeshwar residents take battle against mobile towers to guv's home

Residents of SoBo’s swish Daseshwar building break impasse to talk to Raj Bhavan about mobile tower radiation

Residents of 44-year-old Daseshwar building at Walkeshwar, see new hope in an upcoming meeting to be held at the Raj Bhavan, on June 28 over mobile tower radiation.

Amit Shah of Daseshwar building at Walkeshwar, his window pointing to the tower with antennae opposite. Pics/Prabhanjan Dhanu
Amit Shah of Daseshwar building at Walkeshwar, his window pointing to the tower with antennae opposite. Pics/Prabhanjan Dhanu

The residents, who cite numerous health problems because of mobile tower antennae first placed on their building itself, and then removed and placed opposite the building at Raj Bhavan hope this meet, between radiation experts, residents and Raj Bhavan representatives, ideally results in removal of the towers.

The tower with the antennae in front of Daseshwar building
The tower with the antennae in front of Daseshwar building

The meeting was fixed after Amit Shah, Daseshwar resident since 1973, wrote to Maharashtra Governor, Ch Vidyasagar Rao on March 30 this year, informing him that a Reliance Jio tower had been erected inside the Raj Bhavan premises, directly facing Daseshwar building. Daseshwar-ites say that the mobile antennae which directly face their building, is an act of “vengeance” by the cell phone tower company, because it was forced to remove the towers from the top of the building.

“This is the first meeting of its kind to be held with officials from Raj Bhavan,” said Shah. “We want them to remove the tower opposite our building and take it nearer to their offices or residences as 4G radiation is thrice that of 3G towers. With help from Mumbai’s well known anti mobile tower radiation activist, Prakash Munshi, we want to make them (Raj Bhavan) aware of the radiation which causes health issues.”

A Reliance source though stated, “The arrangement with Daseshwar building society was ended because there was an internal dispute amongst members of the Daseshwar Society Committee. The antennae at Raj Bhavan is an independent arrangement.”

The high profile residential building in the swish SoBo area, has been a battleground for mobile tower radiation. Earlier, there were a total of 17 mobile antennas on the building terrace.

Intra-fighting within the Daseshwar Society committee, had resulted in a set of 17 antennae coming up on the terrace of the building, which is also Shah’s rooftop flat.

“Doctors advised me to shift my father to Surat because radiation was affecting his health,” said Shah. “He had already undergone two angiography(s).”

In 2014, Shah had filed a case in the city civil court against Daseshwar society for setting up of the antennas on the terrace. The antennae was removed last year, after the BMC ordered that all illegal antennas from the terrace were to be removed,” said Shah.

Now, the Reliance mobile tower which was earlier above Shah’s home, is directly facing his living room window, barely 20 metres away, inside an open space in the Raj Bhavan premises, “as if in vengeance for having to remove their antennae from Daseshwar terrace,” he says.

Shah himself, has been haunted by sleepless nights. “I have frequent headaches and my sleep cycle is erratic,” he said. “Even my children complain of frequent headaches. This is what prolonged exposure to radiation over a span of time does to you.”

“Till one year ago, I could do eight rounds of Hanging Garden,” said Jayantilal Kuvadia (82). Now, I can barely do three. I have constant headaches and an irregular sleep cycle.”

“I had taken a strong objection against the towers in the society,” said Bharat Kothari (50), another resident.

“If we want mobile phones to be accessible in India, then we will have to put the towers somewhere,” said Vasant Salunke, comptroller of the Governor’s household. A comptroller is a management level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization, said, “In a densely populated city like Mumbai, if everyone said that they did not want to be near radiation, then where will we put the tower? Somebody has to put the tower, and somebody has to face the radiation. No company would like to invest money towards funding towers in areas where they had no use; there must be a necessity for them,” said Salunke adding, “These residents that are now complaining of radiation, are the same ones that once allowed 17 towers to be installed on their rooftops,” he said. “Now, when somebody else is putting up towers opposite, they don’t want that either. I have been in touch with Munshi, who is currently overseas, who will be attending the June 28 meeting along with a few other residents,” said Salunke. “We are open to discussion.”

There is hope that acrimony is going to end on a conciliatory note. A source at Raj Bhavan added, “The meeting will help clear misgivings and we will address all grievances. We are open to listening, and, open to correction too, if need be.”

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