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Government plans campaign to allay fears over mobile tower radiation

By Aparajita Gupta,

Kochi : Following a high court order, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has asked its technical monitoring wing to spread awareness among the public and remove “undue apprehensions” in their minds over the adverse impact of radiation from mobile phone towers on their health.

“Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) units are requested to take necessary action to spread public awareness to allay undue apprehensions in respect of possible health effects from electro-magnetic field radiations,” a letter to DoT’s technical arm said.

The direction, a copy of which is available with IANS, follows a recent Gujarat High Court verdict that base stations for wireless data and mobile communications pose no threat to health if prescribed norms are followed.

The 25-page order of a bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J.B. Pardiwala said the authorities concerned must educate the people that they had no reason to fear for their health due to radio frequency emissions from base stations in their vicinity.

The order came on an appeal by some residents of an Ahmedabad neighbourhood who wanted a direction to the authorities to disallow Reliance Jio, which is seeking to extend pan-India 4G services, from using a mobile base station in their neighbourhood.

The petitioners had feared that since the base station in question was just outside the garden of their residential premises, they would be exposed to constant radiation, which could cause severe health hazards – a premise that was dismissed by the court.

The letter from the telecom department said the technical wing’s Ahmedabad unit has already taken various steps like coordinating workshops and interacting with print and electronic media to allay fear among general public on radiation.

Debates are also underway among various stakeholders of the industry on whether the radiation is at all harmful for the human health, but experts always advice that some precautionary measures are good to adopt.

“Though the radiation from mobile towers is non-ionising and cannot break the DNA, it is always better to adopt precautionary measures,” Rajesh Dixit, an expert on the subject who works at the epidemiology department of Tata Memorial Centre, told IANS.

Earlier the government has repeatedly mentioned the specified limit of mobile radiation is a 10th of International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) norms, which is adopted by 90 percent of the member countries.

“We have to take a balanced view in this matter. We have to remove the fear from the minds of the people,” said R.K. Arnold, a member with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), at a seminar organised by the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI.

“We need to start an awareness campaign to achieve that. We have conducted various studies and the TRAI have concluded recently that so far there is no such proof of health hazard from EMF radiation or otherwise.”

This apart, the World Health Organisation is also reviewing this aspect. This global body intends to come out with a report by mid-21015 that will indicate how the situation looks like.

(Aparajita Gupta can be reached at [email protected])