Juhi Chawla’s lawsuit against 5G: ill-conceived?

Image Source: The Indian Express

On May 31, 2021, actress and environmentalist Juhi Chawla filed a case in the Delhi HC against the setting up of 5G networks. The actress raised issues related to the impact of high levels of radiation on citizens and the flora and fauna and sought direction from the court to certify that 5G technology is safe for everyone, including every type of organism.

RF exposure will increase y 10x to 100x

Exposure to the radiofrequency (RF) radiation levels due to the introduction of 5G technology will increase by 10x to 100x and will impact both humans and animals. The case further seeks respective studies on the radiation levels via mobile cell towers.

If such a study isn’t already conducted, then one should be conducted and the reports should be furnished declaring whether or not the implementation of 5G is safe.

Petition called ‘defective and ill-conceived’

On June 2, the Delhi HC termed the petition against the roll-out of 5G technology in India as “defective” and done for “media publicity”. Justice J.R. Medha also asked why the actor had moved the court directly without first giving any representation to the government.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the central government said that 5G policy did not fall in the category of public nuisance and was not prohibited by the law. He said the petitioner needed to show how the technology was wrongful and termed the suit “an ill-conceived litigation”.

Is the case really “an ill-conceived litigation”?

5G promises ultra-fast connectivity and low latency, among its benefits. However, the rollout of 5G has been hampered in many countries due to health concerns. While some baseless theories linking coronavirus to the 5G waves have been discredited, several researchers and academia have highlighted that the increased exposure to RF radiations can have adverse effects on humans, other organisms and the environment.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will also be releasing its report on 5G radiations in 2022.

What’s really changing with 5G?

The technology we use today, 2G, 3G and 4G all operate at frequencies below 6 gigahertz, while 5G will use frequencies from 600 megahertz and above, including the millimeter-wave bands between 30 GHz and 300 GHz.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at the World Health Organization (WHO), in May 2011, classified RF radiation to be a ‘possible’ human carcinogen (i.e. can cause cancer). The agency also acknowledged that the evidence is limited.

Gliomas and environmental pollution

While the IARC study didn’t quantify the data, one study of past cell phone use (up to the year 2004), showed a 40% increased risk for gliomas (a malignant type of brain cancer) in the highest category of heavy users (reported average: 30 minutes per day over a 10‐year period).

In 2017, over 190 scientists from 39 nations appealed to the United Nations and WHO cautioning against exposure to such radiation, and called for stricter guidelines around wireless technology, arguing that these pose health risks and will add to a new form of environmental pollution.

Writer’s opinion

The case has gathered a lot of traction in the past two days, but that has been mostly for the distractions caused and the songs sung by fans during the hearing. Cases involving celebrities being fast-tracked have also been an issue for long and are often dismissed as publicity stunts.

However, there are certain environmental and health hazards associated with the 5G technology rollout which have already been raised by scientists, and Juhi Chawla’s involvement, in this case, can help with awareness and addressal, if rightly presented.

The case was dismissed by the HC saying it was done only for publicity, as Juhi Chawla shared the link of the hearing on social media. The court also levied a fine of Rs. 20 lakh on the petitioners as the case had no base, according to the HC.

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