Mobile towers are one of the changes happening around us. Their sight is unmistakable in the skylines of any modern cities of the world. Even hills along the highways are dotted with such towers. They are essential tools of the ‘second machine revolution’, the first being the industrial revolution, the world has stepped into. They have become a key driving apparatus for economies of the world. Besides, it is through them the people of the world sitting in different time zones – day and night at the same time – connect, help and establish relationships with each other. Young billionaires who made most of the digital world would turn pauper overnight without them. With digital money slowly taking the place of paper and metal ones, the money flow would be jammed sans the signal towers. Without them the whole world will come to a grinding halt. But, some say they pose health hazard to humans as well as other forms of life. The allegations were based on ‘evidence’ even as there have been studies to ‘prove’ the allegations baseless.

A workshop held in Shillong on Wednesday was basically aimed at clarifying the people’s ‘misconception’ about mobile towers. Venue of the workshop was aptly chosen at Shillong where for the past five years no additional mobile towers could be allotted by the government due to public resistance. Even as the mobile companies are willing to set up towers the local village heads, ‘concerned’ about public safety, they have not been granted the required no objection certificates (NOCs) for the purpose. Several health specialists and experts have dispelled the fear that radiation emitted by mobile towers can cause health hazards including cancer. They even quoted World Health Organisation (WHO) report to back their claim. They argued that while there is no risk of mobile towers causing harm to humans or any forms of life, they (towers) are very essential to power growth of the country. They said without a good network, for which mobile towers are essential, the country will lag behind in the global race for digitised economy.

Although the self interest of government agencies to allay people’s concern about health hazards from mobile radiation is palpable, the studies done by health and technical experts including the WHO cannot be ruled out. We also have to admit that there are many changes around us besides coming up of mobile towers. To blame just the towers for any health issues without proper evidence is illogical. But, too much of everything is bad. While the government, based on scientific ground, needs to regulate setting up of mobile towers the mobile consumers should also keep a check on rampant use of the device.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on April 1, 2016)