Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TRAI’s green telecom efforts not sufficient, say experts

TRAI’s green telecom efforts not sufficient, say experts
March 23, 2011 07:11 PM |
Moneylife Digital Team

The telecom industry is receiving incentives and subsidies as part of
the efforts to reduce the carbon footprint, but it is not doing enough in
the major areas
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last month published a
consultation paper on "Green Telecommunications" addressing various
aspects like carbon footprints for the telecommunications industry. But,
industry experts are questioning the incentives and subsidies provided to
the sector to push the green agenda.
Professor Girish Kumar, of IIT Bombay, who has been undertaking research
on the harmful effects of electro-magnetic radiation (EMR), asks: "Why does
industry want incentives for green telecom? Is it not our duty as Indians to
not pollute our own country? Should we not care for our people and
The paper says there are 3.1 lakh towers and about 60% of the power
requirement is met through diesel generators and the rest is fulfilled by
power from the grid. But Mr Kumar insists that there are more than 4.5 lakh
towers in the country as of 2011 and that due to shortage of power nearly
59% of the requirement is met through diesel generators and this causes
He also pointed out that telecom operators enjoy unnecessary subsidy on
diesel. He explained that telecom operators get Rs7 per litre subsidy on
diesel. Since their consumption of diesel is 2 billion litres every year, they
get a subsidy of Rs1,400 crore per year.
Mr Kumar suggested that the numbers of diesel generators can be reduced
if power requirement is curbed by optimising telecom systems. The
transmitted power from cell towers must be reduced from 100W to 2W,
which will also help to control radiation.
Mr Kumar said, "The government should adopt immediate policy measure to
reduce the transmitted power to a maximum 1W to 2W, so the energy
requirement will be substantially reduced. Due to low energy requirement,
there will be no need for cooling of the high-power amplifier, and thereby airconditioning
would also not be required in most of the cases and then this
reduced power requirement can be provided through solar or other
renewable energy."
Mr Kumar also raised the issue of the operators' demand for self-regulation
of the industry. Telecom operators present for the discussion on the
consultation paper had said that the government should try to regulate
everything and operators must be allowed to self-certify that they are
meeting all norms.
Mr Kumar said operators should not be allowed self-certification and that the
government should introduce stringent policies and third-party monitoring of
radiation levels and air pollution levels near cell towers. "Heavy penalties
should be slapped in case of any violation as it is directly related to the
health of people, birds, animals and the environment," he said.

Activist Jehangir Gai, said, "There should be an independent and competent
third party regulation." Mr Gai explained, "Assuming that the telecom
companies say that there are no health hazards, then of course there are
some. Even if there is no conclusive study proving the health hazards due to
cell towers, necessary precautions should be taken. It is always better to be
on the safer side."
Moneylife has reported on the health hazards arising out of cells towers and
the negligence on the part of the government to look into the issue. (Read
'Cell towers violate health and safety norms' , and 'DoT group proposes low
radiation levels for cell towers' )
Mr Kumar said it is not enough for service providers to move indoor base
transceiver stations (BTS) to outdoor BTS, switch off a few transmitters, and
to adopt an automatic frequency plan and air cooling instead of airconditioner
to reduce carbon footprint.
He also recommended that telecom service operators emphasise on
research and development to develop solutions, and that the government
should come up with rules for 90% of telecom-related products to be
manufactured in India, which would also help create millions of jobs in the
country. (Also read,'Industry does not want to spend on more cell towers
that will lower radiation'. ) 20/10/2011

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