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Chhattisgarh village disallows cell phone towers to protect birds from radiation

The Asian Openbill Stork is protected by residents of Chhattisgarh's Lachkera village and those who disturb them are fined Rs.1,000 (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@tusharshinde212)

In a world which constantly wants to stay connected through mobile and Internet, there are some who want to shun it for the sake of birds. Yes, these are the residents of Lachkera in Chhattisgarh’s Gariaband district, who have on their own have not allowed any cell towers in their neighbourhood fearing that radiation from it will affect the Asian Openbill storks.

These birds are migratory and visit the region every year. The 600 families residing in the village fear that cell towers will affect the life, reproduction and navigational capabilities of these birds.

Uday Nishad, the village sarpanch, told the media that the people would rather have weak connectivity that harms the birds who find the place quiet and peaceful to nest in the trees. It is their love for these Openbill storks that allows them to resist temptation and pressure from the mobile phone service providers.

In a study done by Devendra Kumar Durgam, Dr. Shweta Sao and Dr. R.K. Singh, a team of scientists from Dr. C.V. Raman University, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh it was found that electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and cell towers affects the birds and environment.

The study said: “When birds are exposed to weak electromagnetic fields, they disorient and fly in all directions, which harm their natural navigational abilities. A large number of birds like pigeons, sparrows, swans are getting lost due to interference from the ‘unseen enemy’, i.e. mobile tower.”

The research paper also made an interesting observation. “It has also been noted of late that animals near mobile towers are prone to various dangers and threats to life including stillbirths, spontaneous abortions, birth deformities, behavioural problems and general decline on overall health. Electromagnetic pollution is a possible cause for deformations and decline of some amphibian populations too,” the study said.

Haven for Openbill storks

Lachkera’s gram panchayat through a resolution does not allow any company to install their mobile towers in its limits. Any person who is found harming or distributing these birds is fined Rs.1,000.

The Openbill storks numbering thousands keep coming to Lachkera during the monsoon and they leave by Diwali. Found widely in India and Southeast Asia, these birds are greyish or white with glossy black wings and tail. They feed on large molluscs, water snakes, frogs and large insects.