Two citizens groups in Mumbai are perfect examples of the anti-radiation movement. The F-North Ward Citizens’ Forum in Matunga and the Bandra’s Perry Road Residents’ Association are
working towards increasing green cover in their respected areas to tackle cell tower radiation.
The F-North Ward Citizens’ Forum is chalking out a plan to add more trees to the existing ones in their area, beginning with Dadar’s Hindu Colony. “We are against high radiation and its repercussions. To reduce ill-effects of radiation, we are planning to plant more trees, which will act as an absorbent,” Nikhil Desai, member of the forum, said.
Desai said the forum will pressurise the BMC to ensure that it plants more trees and reduces the level of radiation. BMC has been claiming that it has the power to regulate the number of cell phone towers on a building but that it cannot regulate radiation levels emitted from these towers, which it claims falls under the purview of department of telecommunication (DoT)
The Bandra association, which claims to have ensured 100 per cent survival of trees along Perry Road in the past five years, wants to encourage other citizens’ groups. “Good things need to be followed in public interest. So, we will also reach out to other residents associations,” said Anil Joseph, chief of the association.
According to the 2008 tree census, carried out by the BMC, the F-North ward (Matunga, parts of Dadar and Sion) and H-West (Bandra) had 82,417 and 83,176 trees respectively.
Overall Mumbai reported a cover of 19,17,844 trees. The civic body expects the tally to increase roughly by 20 lakh trees in the next four years.
Activist Prakash Munshi welcomed the initiative, with a suggestion. “But with the growing exposure to high radiations and transmission powers from cell towers we must convince the government to curb the levels to save us from immediate troubles,” he said.
Experts agree with the activists that if the green cover increases, cellular networks might work at less than efficiency. But they also admit that it is possible for residents to enjoy both the dense green cover and a proper network.
“We can achieve this by installing large number of low power transmitting cell antennas,” Girish Kumar, professor of electrical engineering department at IIT-Powai said. Civic chief Sitaram Kunte remained unavailable for comments.