Can you shed light on the role of co-operatives dept in construction of cellphone towers?
Co-operatives dept supervises the smooth functioning of co-operative units, including 87,000 housing societies, in Maharashtra. Taking into account the mushrooming of cellphone towers, the dept issued a directive in June stating that 70% of the members in a Housing Society should attend the annual/special general body meeting of which 70% should give consent for erecting cellphone towers.
Does this rule apply to cellphone towers erected before the directive was passed?
It does. We updated the circular a few days ago and it states that the grievances of society members should be discussed and voted on in the annual/special general body meeting of the society. Most AGMs are due in August. We issued the corrigendum a few days ago. Our ward-level and district-level officers intervene in dispute. If residents
are still aggrieved they should move the court. We issue directives, but there is no provision for penalty against the erring.
What's your take on health effects of cellphone tower radiation?
The circular states that residents should be made aware of any possible health hazards of a mobile tower before one is erected. Up to 8,000 towers were erected in Mumbai before guidelines were issued. Now we have put together the directives. The health dept should take it upon itself to counsel the masses.
Was there opposition from cell tower companies while streamlining the sector?
Cell tower companies wrote to chief minister's office complaining that they had not been taken into confidence when the directives were issued. I tried to convey to them that we were merely putting rules in place. However, they have failed to appreciate our efforts.