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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

An appeal to Narendra Modi: No mobile towers in school premises

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Earlier this week, Goa Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant took a commendable step to stop work of the erection of a mobile tower inside the school premises of a government-run school in the San Jose De Areal village in Velim, Goa.

I had impressed upon Dr Sawant in a telephonic conversation to stop work of the mobile tower in the school premises, after the agitating villagers and the concerned Sarpanch of the village panchayat approached me to intervene in this serious matter and resolve it.

I visited the school premises where the villagers were protesting. I was shocked to see the slide in the play area removed and in its place was a huge man-dug crater with the mobile company having started its construction right in front of the entrance of the school. Even the flag mast was removed.

This government school houses 100 plus students from the poor background in and around the village. It was disappointing to notice the utter lack of concern for the children by the government authorities and mobile company even after villagers started to protest.

The mobile company supervisors were telling the villagers who were protesting that an FIR would be filed against them if they did not allow them to complete their work of erecting the mobile tower.

The San Jose De Areal panchayat issued a stop work order to the mobile company but the mobile company refused to stop its work, until I spoke to the CM and requested him to stop work immediately. And in the interest of the people of Velim, Dr Sawant did consent to my appeal and immediately got the work of the erection of the mobile tower stopped.

A mobile tower in a school premises is wrong. The people of Velim are not against mobile towers, we are just against mobile towers in a school premises.

No one is aware of where the mobile towers are coming in their villages and neither have, they been made party to any government discussion making process. Sadly, neither was the panchayat privy to the decision taking by the Goa government on the location of the mobile towers.

The orders of the government and its implementation appears to be done with brute force and under police protection without even taking into account the view of the people the mobile towers are intended to serve. Such is the lack of humanness and common sense that the government authorities gave rights to the mobile company to erect a mobile tower in a school premise. Therefore, in all fairness it needed to be objected too and government needed to be made of aware about the concerns of the people.

In a school for special children in Mapusa, Goa when villagers protested against the erection of the mobile tower, the mobile company went to the High Court and because of poor petition of the harmful effects of mobile radiation to children, the mobile company was allowed continue with the construction of its mobile tower. This is sad and deplorable.

I completely support the Indian government in its plan to roll-out 25,000 thousand mobile towers across India in 500-days at the cost to the public exchequer of Rs 26,000 crores because a digitized and connected India is the need of the hour. However, the better future we are endeavoring to create for our children is solely dependent on the decisions we make in the present for their benefits. A mobile tower inside a school premises is dangerous to the health of our children.

Children are most vulnerable to cell phone radiation as they absorb it deeper into their brains and bodies. A child’s developing brain and organ systems are more sensitive to environmental stressors. Even if the radiation absorption were the same as in adults, the effects in children can be far more serious.

  • Zothansiama 2017 published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine found changes in blood considered biomarkers predictive of cancer in people living closer to cell arrays.
  • Rodrigues 2021 published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found higher exposure to cell arrays linked to higher mortality from all cancer and specifically lung and breast cancer.
  • Meo 2018 published in American Journal of Men’s Health linked higher cell tower exposures to delayed fine and gross motor skills, spatial working memory, and attention in school adolescents
  • Yakymenko 2011 published in Exp Oncology found increased of cancer incidence.
  • Meo 2015 published in Environmental Research and Public Health found higher exposures linked to higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • López 2021 published in Environmental Research linked higher exposures to more severe headaches and decreased sleep.
  • Levitt 2010 published in Environmental Reviews analyzed 100 studies and found ~80 percent showed biological effects near towers.
  • Yakymenko 2015 published in Electromagnetic Biology Medicine reviewed 100 studies and showed oxidative effects of low-intensity RF radiation.
  • Buchner 2011 published in Umwelt-Medizin-Gesellschaf and detailed in Oncology Letters followed people in a German town after a cell tower was erected and found stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline significantly increased over the first 6 months after the antenna activation and decreased dopamine and PEA levels after 18 months.
  • Dode 2011 published in Science of the Total Environment 10-year study on cell phone antennas by the local Municipal Health Department and several universities in Brazil found a clearly elevated relative risk of cancer mortality at residential distances of 500 meters or less from cell phone towers.
  • Khurana 2011 published in International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health reviewed epidemiological studies and found in 80% of the studies, people living <500 m from base stations had an increased adverse neuro-behavioral symptoms and cancer.
  • Falcioni 2018 published in Environmental Research exposed rats to RF comparable to cell tower RF levels and found increased cancers.

In 2011, radiofrequency radiation was classified as a Class 2B possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Between then and now, the published peer-reviewed scientific evidence has significantly increased. Now, many scientists are of the opinion that the weight of current peer-reviewed evidence supports the conclusion that radiofrequency radiation should be regarded as a human carcinogen.

Researchers have studied cell towers and cell tower radiation for decades. Effects from RFR documented in scientific research include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, headaches, sleep issues, genetic damage, changes to the reproductive system, memory deficits, and impacts to the nervous system.

The danger of radiation to children can be debated and at the end of the debate those who want to put up mobile towers can pontificate on the theory of ‘no harm to children’ but common sense will indicate that whether we accept the harmfulness of mobile towers in close vicinity to schools or not, it is harmful.

The moot question Mr. Modi is simple, in our exuberance to roll out wider of 25,000 mobile towers to ensure good network connectivity all around India, it is must humble request if we can we use a little prudence and refrain from putting mobile towers inside school premises.

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