Citizens oppose plan to put up Wi-Fi towers along beach

Congress leader, locals object to the move citing radiation worries, CRZ norms

Published - December 17, 2018 11:22 pm IST - PUDUCHERRY

An eyesore: Trenches being dug up on the Beach Promenade in Puducherry to put up Wi-Fi towers.

An eyesore: Trenches being dug up on the Beach Promenade in Puducherry to put up Wi-Fi towers.

The move by a private telecom operator to install Wi-Fi towers every 60 m on a 1.3-km stretch of the Beach Promenade has kicked up a row.

The residents and Parliamentary Secretary to Chief Minister K. Lakshminarayanan have appealed to the government to cancel the permission to the telecom company and halt the work immediately.

The private telecom operator has started digging trenches on the stretch starting from the Seagulls Restaurant on the southern side for laying optic fibre cables and installation of the towers, which was in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.

Sources said the leading telecom service provider, Reliance Jio, has completed the pillars for installation of six towers while the work on the remaining towers has been progressing swiftly.

“It will have serious implications on the health of the people. For installation of these towers, the company should have obtained permission from the authorities concerned and objections raised by the locals should have been addressed. But nothing of this sort has been done,” Mr. Lakshminarayanan told The Hindu.

Cell phone towers should not be allowed in residential areas and so close to the coast on the eastern side which falls under the CRZ. This would mar the beauty of the Promenade.

Health hazard

A large number of people, including children, senior citizens and pregnant women visit the beach for their daily walk and constant radiation from these towers would affect their health.

Permission had not been granted to any telecom operator to install towers on the Marina in Chennai and therefore Puducherry should not become a testing lab, Mr. Lakshminarayanan said.

According to Sunaina Mandeen, a member of PondyCan, “People come to the town to enjoy the beauty and fresh air and environment on the Bay of Bengal and to block their view with Wi-Fi towers is highly objectionable. This is contrary to the unique spiritual heritage the town represents and a health hazard too. And this happens when our long lost beaches are being restored.”

Mr. Mandeen said everyone wanted free Wi-Fi and meeting this demand was welcome. But no one needs Wi-Fi round-the-clok at all locations.

“The government should instead work towards a Wi-Fi-free area where families and friends can enjoy the beauty of nature leaving their phones at home,” she said.

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