DoT group proposes low radiation levels for cell towers
Alekh Angre 31 January 2011

Policy makers, concerned about the impact of mobile phone radiation on the human systems, complications in reproductive health and behaviour problems in children, want operators to take effective steps to curb harmful effects

A report submitted last week by the inter-ministerial group to the Department of Telecommunications has recommended that the radiation level per cell tower should be less than 1-watt per sq metre-reducing it to 1/10th the current permissible norm. This was stated by Ram Kumar, former advisor (operations/technology) with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), at a consumer awareness programme on "Radiation Health Hazards from Cell Towers: Myth or Reality".

The programme was organised by the Bombay Telephone Users' Association (BTUA), on the completion of 25 years of working in the interest of telecom consumers. The programme had a panel of experts from the fields of medical research, physicists, bio-technology and consumer activists.

Mr Kumar told Moneylife, "We have forwarded the recommendations, which would be implemented very soon. Overall, there has been a positive response from DoT on the suggestions."

Rakesh Gujral, joint advisor with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), said that TRAI had recently issued a consultation paper on infrastructure for the telecom sector which has a section on radiation norms. Asked about the possible implementation of the changes suggested in consultation paper, Mr Gujral told Moneylife, "We have given a particular date for all stakeholders, including the operators to respond. Once they give their views, the process of discussion will begin."

Dr RS Sharma, deputy director-general, Indian Council of Medical Research, who also addressed the consumer seminar, said, "The  International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection  (ICNIRP) guidelines are not suitable for India. It should be reviewed in the Indian context considering factors like body mass index, nutritional intake, population density, etc."

Dr Sharma is engaged in an all-India study on the health hazards from mobile phones. In his presentation, Dr Sharma discussed the findings of international research which points out medical complications arising from sustained use of mobile phones and exposure to radiation form cell towers. All research points out to the impact on the human immune and nervous systems, complications in reproductive health as well as behavioural problems in children. He emphasised that all epidemiological studies point out to adverse impact of mobile radio especially on children, pregnant women and on male fertility.

One of the panel members, Professor Girish Kumar, of IIT Bombay, who has been researching the effects of electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) explained that the microwave radiation has two effects-thermal and non-thermal. The present safety norms are based on thermal effects, ignoring non-thermal effects which are three to four times more dangerous. Non-thermal radiation exposure is associated with affecting cell membrane permeability.

Other members of the panel, which included doctors from the radio-oncology department of Hinduja Hospital, also pointed out that they observed a much higher incidence of inner-ear myeloma and deafness in early adulthood and this was clearly indicative of the impact of long exposure to mobile phones. The panel members strongly expressed that the present radiation norms adopted by India as per ICNIRP guidelines are outdated, not suitable and should be reviewed in the Indian context.

According to current norms, the area within a six-metre radius of your tower is defined as dangerous, despite which many buildings have these towers and many more buildings are not very far from these towers either.

Some of the victims who developed cancer because of the exposure to radiation emitted from the mobile phone towers, also attended the programme and narrated their distressing experiences. One of the participants suggested that since the hazardous effects on children and the young were so clearly proven, it should form a part of the textbooks for the seventh and eighth standards.

Though a representative from TRAI was present for the programme, the overall response from the government was disappointing. Apart from a retired DoT official, there was no representative from the government-central or state, perhaps indicative of  the apathy to the woes and concerns  of citizens. 

Narendra Doshi
9 years ago
We are still VERY FAR from safe. MUCH MORE IS ESSENTIAL for the radiation limits. Use mobile ONLY for emergencies. Increase use of land-lines. This is the prescription for the Aam Adami.
9 years ago
That would be great to know that cell towers has low radiation." title="social gamer helper">asphalt 8 airborne
Narendra Doshi
1 decade ago
Very very good information , so soon, by Mr. Alekh Angre. Please keep up the tempo, Moneylife team, and only wish that actual, legal steps get implemented by the end of 2011. If done, may be India would be the first country to act .
p y k
1 decade ago
perhaps if we say that children of the monister/ bureacrat wd develop early cancer? deafness wd be a wake up call. in any case most of them wd be getting the cell phone free at the taxpayers cost, so to realise the damage , it must be dramatised.

they wd also get "bad vibes" from ordinary perosns to incresae the intensity of radiation!
Free Helpline
Legal Credit