Distancing itself from the views expressed by IIT Bombay Prof Girish Kumar on the issue of cell phone towers, the institute said that those are his personal opinion. “The views expressed by Prof Kumar are personal and are not endorsed by IIT Bombay,” said an official spokesperson of IIT Bombay.
A recent report by a committee set up by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has criticised Kumar, a professor in the electrical engineering department of IIT Bombay, for blowing out of proportion the effects of cell phone tower radiation on humans and on the other hand, promoting his daughter’s business of products claiming to reduce the impact of such radiation.
Kumar, one of the 13 members of the committee, said he had send repeated emails to the panel, pointing out that several members were pro-DoT norms.
“…out of 13 members, eight are known to favour DOT norms (high radiation). Based on my prior experience, I do not want to attend this closed door meeting, where my view-points will be outnumbered. I can come only if it is an open door meeting, where media and concerned people are invited, who have suffered due to high cell tower radiation, and then everybody’s viewpoints are noted and recorded,” he wrote in an email last year.
Subsequently, in January this year, he emailed the committee with detailed comments on observations in the final report and marked the same to judges of the Allahabad High Court, so that they could see “both sides of the coin”.
“Merely 12 members cannot decide the fate of 120 crore people in the country. They have ignored my comments and suggested solutions, which would ensure cell phone connectivity as well as safety of people,” said Kumar.
On the issue of his daughter Neha Kumar’s usage of IIT Bombay’s name in her brochures, stating that “all our products are tested and certified by Antenna Lab, IIT Bombay” as well as the company (NESA Radiation Solutions Pvt Ltd) website, Prof Kumar said he will look into the issue.
Meanwhile, actor Juhi Chawla, who has been advocating for better norms and regulations on cell phone towers along with South Mumbai resident Prakash Munshi, said as a concerned citizen, she has used the shielding solutions offered by the company, run by Kumar’s daughter. “I am treading on the line of caution. Also, the cellular operators are running a massive business, so whose vested interest are they talking about when they say that there is no evidence to show that electromagnetic field limits are safe and there’s no impact on human health?” said Chawla.
Munshi, who called the report “character assassination”, said that Prof Kumar has repeatedly called for reduced transmitted power. “If the radiation levels go down, his daughter will have to close down her business. This shows that there is no conflict of interest. So what point is being made by the DoT and other IIT professors, who were part of the committee?” he questioned.