4 mobile towers in open grounds: Bombay HC allows installation near housing societies

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday cleared the decks for the installation of mobile towers near four housing societies. The court allowed the installation of towers on ‘recreational and open’ grounds for want of scientific data showing the impact of electro-magnetic waves on humans. Now, the mobile towers will be set up on V Shantaram Balodyan (a children’s playground) and Matoshri Ramabai Keshav Thackeray Udyan, both at Parel, at the 8,263 sq mt Joggers Park in Borivli and on the terrace of a building in Antop Hill.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had permitted the installation of these towers in 2015. However, the permission was challenged by the local residents before the HC. The residents argued that since the sites for installation were either recreational or open grounds — the only green lung in the area — the permissions be cancelled. They even argued that the installation would infringe their right to life as the electro-magnetic waves have an adverse impact on their lives.

The residents claimed that the permissions were in violation of the government notification in March 2014, which notified the regulations for setting up of telecommunication cell site/ base station and installation of equipment for telecommunication network in the state.

Trashing all the contentions, the bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Nijamoodin Jamadar said, “The mere fact that in majority of studies some or other impact of the electro-magnetic waves was found on humans does not justify the conclusion that the electro-magnetic radiation emanating from mobile towers has adverse and ill-effects on human health and well-being.”

“There are adequate regulations to ensure that the installation of TCS/BS and equipment for telecommunication network do not cause unwarranted intrusion and adverse impact upon human health and well-being,” Justice Gavai said in his judgment. The bench further noted the absence of any scientific material or data to warrant the prohibition on installation such  equipment for telecommunication network.

“Having examined the matters on the anvil of special burden of proof in environmental cases, we find that the scientific material, as of today, does not indicate any identifiable risk of serious harm on account of non-ionised radiation emanating from TCS/BS and equipment for telecommunication network,” Justice Gavai said. “Thus, we are not inclined to prohibit the installation of the towers on the basis of mere apprehensions which are not rooted in the facts and supported by reliable scientific material,” Justice Gavai ruled.

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