Five days after the Delhi High Court dismissed Juhi Chawla’s petition against the rollout of 5G in the country, the actor on Wednesday (June 9) came out with a video explaining why she chose to approach the court.
The court had said the complaint was “defective and non-maintainable”, adding the plea was a “publicity stunt”. It had also imposed a cost of ₹20 lakh on the actor and others for abusing and misusing the process of law.
“In the past few days, there was so much noise that I could not hear myself. In this noise, a very important message was lost,” she said in a video she shared on Instagram. “And that was, we are not against 5G. In fact, we are welcoming it… All we’re asking the authorities, [is that] they certify 5G safe.”
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The petition by Juhi Chawla, Veeresh Malik and Teena Vachani said if the telecom industry’s plans for 5G became a reality, it would cause irreversible damage to the environment and that “no person, animal, bird, insect and plant on earth will be able to avoid exposure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to radiation 10x to 100x times greater than what exists today”.
“All we’re asking is that you certify this, publish the studies and research in public domain so that the fear we have goes away. So that we can all sleep in peace. We just want to know that it is safe for children, for pregnant women, for unborn children, for people who are old, infirm, for flora, fauna… that is all we are asking,” Chawla said in her 90-second video.
The HC had also ordered action against people who interrupted a virtual hearing using a link the actor had shared on social media and sung songs from her films.
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Scientific studies on the impact of 5G technology on humans and other living beings are varied. Abhay Karandikar, director of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and part-time member of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), told Down To Earth in 2019 that the technology was unlikely to cause health concerns.
“Typically, RF radiations are non-ionizing and cause only dielectric heating effects (unlike ionizing radiations like X-rays and gamma rays). It is not known yet that these radiations can cause any adverse health effects like cancers as physics of non-ionizing radiation cannot explain this.
“Moreover, 5G is going to be deployed in various spectrum bands. The popular bands are likely to be in the range of lower frequency. The ones with high frequency range will have a small coverage and hence their radiated power levels will be within reasonable limits. They are unlikely to cause any major health concerns.”
The World Health Organization said on its website that it is conducting a health risk assessment from exposure to radio frequencies, covering the entire radio frequency range, including 5G, to be published by 2022.
WHO will review scientific evidence related to potential health risks from 5G exposure as the new technology is deployed, and as more public health-related data become available.
It said that to date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies. Health-related conclusions are drawn from studies performed across the entire radio spectrum but, so far, only a few studies have been carried out at the frequencies to be used by 5G.
“Tissue heating is the main mechanism of interaction between radio frequency fields and the human body. Radio frequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body,” it said.
“As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye). Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated,” WHO said.