As there is no evidence to conclusively suggest that radiation from cell phone towers has deadly effects on birds, particularly the sparrow, the Salim Ali Institute of Ornithology and Natural Sciences in Coimbatore has proposed an exhaustive study on the subject.

“Actually, there is no clear proof to conclude that cell phone towers are directly responsible for the decline in sparrow population. But this does not mean that the studies are final. There is a proposal in our institute to study the impact of cell phone towers on birds,” said P. Pramod, senior scientist of the Institute.

Mr. Pramod said three major issues had a direct bearing on sparrow population: availability of food, nesting sites and hiding places to escape from predators. Urbanisation has fast depleted their habitat.

“Proliferation of departmental stores and availability of grains in polythene pockets deny sparrows access to food. Earlier, sparrows used to feed on waste outside provision stores,” he said.

Intensive use of insecticides also resulted in the decline of sparrows. The hatchlings need insects for fast growth. Insecticides have gradually eradicated insects.

Mr. Pramod said the second factor responsible for the decline in sparrow population was the disappearance of old thatched houses and the proliferation of concrete structures. “They have an age-old relationship with human beings and nest in roofs of houses. But today there is hardly any space for them to nest,” he said.