The Supreme Court on Friday accepted actor Juhi Chawla’s plea demanding tighter norms governing cell phone tower radiation. The court will hear the petition in November, along with the pleas of five others.

“Unfettered and unregulated installation of towers/antennae pose hazardous health risks and impinge upon the right to health, environment, and life with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution,” Chawla’s petition states.

All the petitions pertain to issues arising from rampant illegal installation of the towers and antennae, and the absence of adequate laws and regulatory norms.

“A few of the petitioners and their relatives are victims of and continue to suffer from varying degrees of health-related issues. There is a direct correlation between the rising clusters of towers/antennae installed all over the country, especially with the advent of 3G and 4G, and the deteriorating health of those persons who are directly exposed to these towers at long stretches of time,” states the petition.

Medical evidence

This comes at a time when the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is reviewing the interim results of a study on the effects of cell phones and radiation on subjects.

“Our interim results at the end of three years reveal that there are biological changes in the human body due to use of cellphones. Whether or not these changes are hazardous to health remains to be seen. We will only know after five-year data is studied,” said RS Sharma, a senior scientist at ICMR.

The ICMR is shadowing multiple volunteer subjects as they continue using cellphones for various periods of time. It has also been facilitating their annual body check-up, including detailed tests such as blood samples, PET and bone scans, to detect biological changes in their body at a cellular level.

‘DoT favoured telcos’

A Parliamentary committee had earlier found that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had selectively accepted studies that favoured the interests of telecom companies and higher power-density limits, while completely ignoring studies that had concluded that electro-magnetic frequency (EMF) radiation from cell phones and cell-phone towers might be causing health risks to humans, flora and fauna.