Even site owners ditch mobile towers over radiation threat

This Article first appeared on http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/index.aspx?EID=31809&dt=20160724#
Even site owners ditch mobile towers over radiation threat
Chief secretary Rajiv Sharma’s recent assurance about mobile towers being `absolutely safe’ appears to have failed to allay the fears of citizens. In fact, many tower site owners in the city are even mulling not renewing their lease agreements with service providers.There are an estimated 20,000 mobile towers in and around Hyderabad, with most of them concentrated in areas like Banjara Hills, Secunderabad, Dilkshuknagar, Mehdipatnam, S R Nagar, Kukatpally and Film Nagar.

“I have researched quite a bit on the radiation threat and even tried seeking answers from authorities, but I am not convinced with the responses. I am not willing to put my family through the threat and have, hence, decided not to renew the lease agreement for my site that ends later this year,“ said Venkatesh G, a site owner at Kukatpally .

Over the years, these owners have been lured with lucrative offers for housing different types of tower antennae, fetching anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 30,000. “The money is substantial for letting out a small space on the terrace, but the hazard too is substantial. If I renew the lease and later it is confirmed that the radiation level is too high, I will not be able to go back on the agreement as most companies sign a 10-year deal,“ said another site owner, Rameshwar Reddy from Mehdipatnam.

Mobile towers can be located on the ground, rooftop or poles with sec tor antenna, monopole antenna, fat board 4G antenna and even camouflaged antenna that look like a lamp.

Confused with the debate over the radiation hazard, the Cell Tower’s Site Owners and Neighbours Welfare Association has shot off a letter to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) seeking clarity. “It’s not only the citizens but also tower site owners who are equally confused about the threat from radiation. We have written a letter to TRAI, asking them for some clarity . Many of our members have resolved not to renew the lease due to the radiation threat. Even I have decided not to extend the lease for my sites,“ said Purna Chander Rao, president of the association.

The association has also asked TRAI for details on radiation emitted by each tower. “While radiation levels are randomly checked by the Telecom Enforcement Resources and Monitoring (TERM) cell of the department of telecommunications (DoT), these details are not made available to even site owners,“ added Rao.

Companies installing towers agree that convincing consumers is a task. “People are asking questions and are unwilling to extend lease agreements,“ said Kamalakar Nelli, manager, Saurava Towers Pvt Ltd, a mobile tower installation firm. He admits that vendors now are installing just two to five towers a month, as against seven to eight earlier.

Prakash R Munshi
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