BMC demolishes 'illegal' mobile towers at South Mumbai building

Mar 31, 2017, 14:25 IST | Hemal Ashar

Civic authorities take down mobile installation at Nepean Sea Road building; housing societies around Shivner building had rallied against their installation

The BMC demolishing the base station of the mobile towers at Shivner building. Pics/Shadab Khan
The BMC demolishing the base station of the mobile towers at Shivner building. Pics/Shadab Khan

That's the way the cookie crumbles, or in this case, the mobile tower tumbles. On Wednesday, the BMC began demolishing three 'illegal' mobile towers atop Shivner building at Nepean Sea Road, first taking down the 'base station', and resuming the task on Thursday to completely bring down the towers. The issue revolved around the seven building that had - worried about the carcinogenic effects of the radiation - objected to the mobile tower at Shivner building and written to the BMC against it.

The towers being removed on Thursday morning.
The towers being removed on Thursday morning.

Action base station
When this reporter was at the site, BMC's Sandeep Gite, assistant engineer, Building & Factory Department 'D' ward was seen directing his men to first dismantle the base station.

A little later, the Indus Towers team arrived with experts to assist in removing the towers. Indus representatives at the spot, however, refused to answer questions or identify themselves and phone calls to the Indus office in Andheri too, elicited no response.

Second part of Indus Towers' letter to Shivner building asking for Rs 25 lakh
Second part of Indus Towers' letter to Shivner building asking for Rs 25 lakh

Indus vs Shivner
The battleground now shifts to Indus vs Shivner building. In a letter dated March 17, 2017 (a copy of which is with mid-day), Indus Towers has written to Shiv Shibir Co-Operative Housing Society Ltd (the society name for Shivner building) that there has been a 'material breach of terms and conditions of Lease and License Agreement dated February 20, 2017 executed between Indus Towers Ltd and Shiv Shibir CHSL'. It added, "We have incurred huge business loss and the network in the vicinity is disrupted," and ends with, "You are hereby called upon to pay a sum of Rs 25,00,000 against our business loss."

Even Shivner's secretary Arun Todarmal is reluctant to address the issue and said, "I do not want to discuss this I am not interested," before hanging up. Chairman Mehul Mehta also did not want to comment immediately and said he would like to consult the committee first.

Mission accomplished
Meanwhile, for seven buildings around Shivner, who had complained about the towers citing health hazards from mobile tower radiation, it is mission accomplished. The buildings that complained to a slew of authorities, from the BMC, to the Malabar Hill police station and the fire department are namely: Nepean House, Raheja Regale, Laxmi Vilas, Shahnaz, Manju Apts, Vidhani Apts and Nymph building.

Alarmed at the possible carcinogenic effects from the tower radiation, the buildings had sent several letters - jointly and individually - to authorities.

One letter dated March 10, addressed to Devidas Kshirsagar, assistant municipal commissioner 'D' Ward, reads, "Shivner building is in the middle of a cluster of residential buildings much taller than Shivner. All members of the adjacent societies are extremely concerned about the installation of the mobile cell towers because of Electro Magnetic Radiation from these towers pose a very serious health hazard. We are not averse to technological advances, but they should not come at the expense of the health of citizens. Hence, we strongly urge you to stop the work of the erection of the towers and also take steps to remove it from the said building."

'Wild West' approach
Janak Sheth, secretary, Nepean House, which faces Shivner, said, "The towers have come down, but what we were especially irked at was the 'wild west' approach of the mobile tower companies. We had also written to Shivner earlier appealing to their conscience, saying that what you are doing is wrong. In fact, most members of Shivner too were against the towers."

Sneha Shah of Shahnaz building said, "we are of course, very happy that the towers are gone. When initially, the buildings came together to protest, there was some skepticism that nothing will come of this. We are elated to be proved wrong."

Prakash Munshi, a well-known anti-mobile tower radiation activist, stressed that eternal vigilance won the day for residents.

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