Mobile Tower Radiation norms Absurd, says WHO

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Communication with the help of Technology has become a globally recognized important tool for socio-economic development of a nation. It has become more of a core infrastructure requirement for growth and modernization of various sectors of a nation. Today, India is inevitably stands amongst top three of largest and one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world. There has been a phenomenal growth of the telecom sector in terms of subscribers and revenues over the past one and a half decades in India. The Indian telecom industry has grown from a teledensity of 3.58% in March 2001 to 78.13% in February 2015. India’s mobile subscriber base is expected to cross 800 million by the end of FY2015 from 453 million subscribers at the end of FY2014. This great leap in both the number of subscribers and revenues from telecom services has contributed significantly to the growth in GDP and employment.

Based on the data consumption on handheld devices, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), the total mobile services market revenue in India is expected to grow at about Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.2 percent, i.e. reach US$ 37 billion by 2017 or you can say smartphones which account for two out of every three mobile connections would help India reach the fourth largest smartphone market globally by 2020.

However, there has been speculation on the possible health effects of EMR from diverse sources especially Mobile BTS antennae and mobile. Several studies released by World Health Organization (WHO) worldwide over past 30 years, have concluded: “current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic field”. Though an expert from WHO said, “Indian government ordered to reduce the power of radio frequency in mobile towers’ which will minimize harmful radiation, which is detrimental to humans.”

But Repacholi, a senior met official of the TRAI said, “Government’s decision to reduce the power of the base stations will not help in minimizing any risk. If you reduce the power of a base station, your mobile handset transmits more frequency to stay connected to the network. As the handset is closer to the body, it could cause some health hazard.” This will led to get things costlier for telecom companies, as they would be pressured to install more towers, and save customers from call drop.

Under the global standard of setting up of a power of radio frequency, set by WHO, the Indian government made it mandatory for telecom companies to install base stations to a tenth of required power of the radio frequency. The move has been opposed by telecom industry associations which claimed this was unnecessary.

Repacholi also told the government that, “Hand-held mobile devices might cause health hazards, but not the base stations of mobile towers, as EMF radiation from a mobile handset transmitted is 1,000 times higher than that of a base station.” Repachli also disposed the attack on towers, as according to him, it is not justified because radiation exposure from a base station is about five times lower than from a television or a transistor.” To submit his point, he said, “Nobody has ever questioned how much harm a television or a radio set could cause public health,” Repacholi suggested to the Indian government to consider these research-based details before forming a policy that is in sync with global standards.”

According to him, “The government may be trying to play safe, as there is pressure from activists and the matter relates to the concern of citizens. But, no study, including the ones conducted by WHO, have proved that EMF radiation from base stations at mobile towers ever caused any health hazard anywhere in the world.” Though there has been repeated opposition on the establishment of telecom towers on rooftops in densely populated areas, claiming radiation from such installations are causing serious health risks, such as cancer.

Repacholi cautioned DoT that, “The stringent norms would affect the country’s movement towards the advancement. When India will adopts 5G, it will continue to have issues if it sticks to the current EMF standards.”

Rajan Mathews, director-general of the Cellular Operators Association of India, said: “The earlier standards were in line with what WHO has recommended. Now the government has forced us to follow more stringent norms. Obviously, this will impact the quality of services, as the transmission power of towers has come down. What can we do?” Telecom operators too have claimed this move would have an adverse impact on quality of service and investments would dry up.


Business Standard

Tags health effects of mobile tower radiationMobile tower radiationTRAIWHOworld health organisation

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