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Cell Phone towers industry-A review

Mobile towers are installed by Telecom Service Provider/ Infrastructure Providers to improve coverage and capacity of their networks subject to techno-commercial feasibility, the rollout obligation. The Government has set up Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) for planning and implementing various schemes to set up mobile towers and provide telecommunication services to people in the rural and remote areas of the country.

DoT follows the standards and best practices recommended by relevant International agencies/ organisations such as World Health Organization (WHO), International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), International Advisory Committee (IAC) on Electro Magnetic Field (EMF), International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and various Study Groups under ITU for monitoring global developments in this regard. The EMF emission norms in India are 10 times more stringent than that as prescribed by ICNIRP. This obviates the need of having separate norms for different localities.

Department of Telecommunications has issued advisory guidelines, dated 01.08.2013, to State Governments for issue of clearance for installation of mobile towers. These guidelines to State Governments are applicable to all areas including residential areas and do not place any restriction on installation of mobile towers in densely populated areas.

An Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), setup in 2010 to examine the effect of Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) emission from Base Transceiver Stations (BTSs) and mobile phones, after examining various national and international studies on the environmental and health related concerns due to EMF, had, inter-alia, indicated that most of the laboratory studies were unable to find a direct link between exposure to radio frequency radiation and health; and the scientific studies as yet have not been able to confirm a cause and effect relationship between radio frequency radiation and health.

Also, a committee, constituted by Hon’ble High Court Allahabad including Members from IITs of Kharagpur, Kanpur, Delhi, Roorkee, Bombay and from other scientific institutions of the country including Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) Delhi, in their report submitted in 2014, has, inter-alia, noted – “ … On the basis of scientific evidences, studies and reports available, it has been found that there is no conclusive evidence about the stated dangers of EMF radiation from mobile BTS tower…” The Committee has noted that “there are no conclusive evidence to establish any causal link between the effect of EMF radiation from BTS with biological effects described in cell models, animals or humans, and any possible resulting health effects.”

Further, a joint initiative was launched by Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) under Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Department of Telecommunications (DoT), wherein nineteen research have been conducted to study possible impact of EMF exposure from mobile towers and handsets on life i.e. Humans, Living Organisms, Flora & Fauna and Environment. At present, the studies are non- conclusive.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Communications, Devusinh Chauhan in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

CT Bureau

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