Is the cellphone tower in your neighbourhood emitting excess radiation? A website may come to your help.
A 13-member, high-level committee, formed by the Department of Telecom on the orders of the Allahabad High Court to look into issues of electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation, has recommended that a dedicated website be set up to let the public know how much emission occurs from every tower in the country.
India has over 5.5 lakh towers and over 100 crore active mobile handsets.
“The DoT should create a national EMF Web portal to provide the public access to the status of compliance with the prescribed EMF norms of all BTSs [base transceiver stations that produce electromagnetic fields] and mobile towers and related relevant information,” the panel said.
The court, hearing a case filed by Ram Singh Jauhari of Lucknow on cellphone towers in his neighbourhood, converted his plea into a public interest litigation petition.
The DoT has been asked to “continue the extensive audit of self-certificates being provided by the telecom service providers in order to ensure compliance with the prescribed stricter norms of EMF radiation.” At present, the department has no permanent mechanism to check emissions on a daily basis and it depends on “self-certification” from the operators. It carries out random checks and penalises operators whose towers emit excess radiation.
Union Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Milind Deora told The Hindu that the department was studying the report and would initiate appropriate action soon. “The DoT adopted the EMF radiation limits prescribed by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) in 2008, which were further reduced to one-tenth of the safe limit prescribed by ICNIRP with effect from 2012. All telecom service providers have to comply with these prescribed limits,” he said.
Noting that he, as a mobile-phone user himself, was concerned over implementation of radiation norms, the Minister said the DoT, along with other ministries and departments, was commissioning a high-level study to formalise India-specific EMF radiation.