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Students protest against cellphone tower in IIT-B

A cellphone tower set up recently at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT),Bombay.

Written by Mihika Basu | Mumbai |
March 6, 2011 1:55:50 am

A cellphone tower set up recently at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT),Bombay,has become a bone of contention between students and institute authorities. Several students are against the tower,installed around two months ago on top of the C-wing of Hostel 14,and want it removed as they fear the radiation will have an adverse effect on them.

“We are worried about the harmful impact of radiation on our health. We want it removed,” a student said on condition of anonymity. “The consent or opinion of all students was not taken before signing the contract for installing the tower,” another student alleged. Around 400 students were part of a signature campaign against the tower. “The opinion of some students was sought,but everyone was against it.”

Ironically,it was an IIT-Bombay professor — Girish Kumar of the electrical engineering department — who had submitted a 30-page report on “cell tower radiation” to the Department of Telecommunications in December 2010. “In India,we have adopted very relaxed radiation norms of 4.7 W/m2 (watt per metre square) for GSM 900,whereas serious health effects have been noted at as low as 0.0001 W/m2. It’s not just human beings,cell tower radiation can also adversely effects birds,animals and environment. Though cell operators continue to claim that there are no health issues,it’s time we realised the seriousness of the health hazards due to radiation from cell towers,” the report says.

The students had met institute authorities,seeking appropriate steps.

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“The location which was chosen for installing the tower was the safest of all locations as this hostel has seven floors. Also,the tower was installed in a manner to ensure that radiation will be at a minimal level,” said Prakash Gopalan,dean of student affairs,IIT-Bombay. “Besides,the tower was put up at the request of the student community as the mobile signal was weak in hostel rooms. But now,the location has become an issue. If students don’t want the tower,no one has any problem with that. But then,they should also learn to live without mobile phones,nor should they complain if the signal is weak.”

The students are now planning their next course of action. “It’s a difficult issue. We’re contemplating how we can convince the authorities about our concerns and demands,” one of them said.

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