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Al Barsha residents concerned about effects of overhead power cables

DUBAI // Fears over what effect overhead power lines could have on the health of families dominate the concerns of Emiratis in Al Barsha as campaigning for votes in the October 3 election to the Federal National Council gains pace.

Residents would like detailed studies on the impact of overhead pylons on nearby homes.

“Our whole family stays in villas facing the power lines, we have neighbours who are our relatives. We worry that it’s not healthy, especially for children,” said Emirati designer Lamya Abedi, founder of couture line the Queen of Spades.

“I try and prevent children from playing in the backyard because health comes first. It would help if the cables were laid underground or if we could speak to someone about it. The area is very sandy, so planting trees would make it less dusty.”

Mariam Hissa, a mother of four young children, said she had read about long-term health issues surrounding power cables.

“When relatives tried to rent their villa many Europeans showed interest but said they were worried about the power lines. We then checked studies about the health risks. If a big study is done here or someone talks to us, it will help settle our worries.”

A Dewa official said power lines near Al Barsha were in a designated corridor.

“We check the levels [of electromagnetic fields] and regularly inspect the height of the lines and also ensure the pylons are safe. Readings are regularly checked and there is no safety concern for houses near by.”

Research undertaken overseas has yielded conflicting results. Studies in the United Kingdom and United States in the late 1990s suggested a link between high electromagnetic fields and cancer and childhood leukaemia, while other studies concluded there was no firm evidence of risk from power lines.

Still, the pylons remain a concern also for newer residents of Al Barsha South, many of whom moved in this year.

“Unfortunately, my house is very close to the power lines. I have studied it so I know the impact and side-effects so it is a concern, especially for children,” said Hamad Al Mutairi, who works in a Government IT department. “It may not affect me today but in the long term it will affect me, my children and grandchildren. We should try to find a way to move these cables underground. People need to know the channels to reach the FNC and understand what can they do for us.”

New homes being handed over without electricity connections were another issue that needed to be addressed.

Residents who moved in between six and nine months ago said they were not told how long they would have to wait for connection.

“Electricity was the biggest challenge I faced when moving in. I also waited four to five months to get an internet connection,” said Mr Al Mutairi, who moved in six months ago.

“This is a new area, so before handing over the land they should have the power in place and it should be covered by an internet service provider. I was told it would take maybe five or six months for the internet so I was left in the lurch. We also need green areas and landscaping because otherwise we feel we are living in a desert connected by a road.”

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(via The National)