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IN Goa now a mobile tower cannot be set up without first obtaining a no objection certificate from the village panchayat. Earlier, NoCs were first given by the Goa State Pollution Board. The panchayat was approached later. Often panchayats raised objections. Mobile towers are needed for connectivity, but there are fears about them causing health hazards. There are varying studies: some show they do not cause harm, others say they do. A study made by the German government in 2004 revealed that people living within 1300 feet of mobile phone towers had three times the risk of having cancer. A French government study said people living within 1,000 feet of cell towers shows signs of depression, sleep disorders, fatigue memory loss and heart problems. But now village panchayats are going to have a major say not only on the fate of upcoming and also the existing mobile towers. This will also help in assessing the structural stability of and hazards from mobile towers. Village panchayats can also propose sites like hilltops and isolated places which will reduce the risks to residents. It is a beginning in the right direction. Panchayats must prepare proper guidelines for it and enforce them.

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