Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Citizens say new mobile tower norms aren’t stringent enough

The Union government’s new guidelines on mobile phone tower radiation — which reduces the permissible radiation level to 1/10th the current one — has failed to impress citizen groups and activists in the city, who have now initiated a public awareness campaign.  The groups, 
concerned about the health hazards posed by cellphone tower radiation, want to make people aware that the radiation levels permissible under the new norms are still much above safe levels and can severely impact your health. They are planning seminars, awareness programs and mass emails on the issue.
The current permissible radiation level is 4,500 milli watts per sq m, as per the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The new guidelines, which the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will implement by September 1, proposes to lower the radiation levels to 1/10th of the existing one, i.e, 250 milli watts per sq m.
However, activists claim this is too high. “Health hazards have been reported even when radiation levels are below 100 milli watts per sq m. The level should be reduced to 1 milli watt per sq m — the accepted norm in many countries,” said Vinod Shah, a Charmichael road resident, who has been creating awareness about mobile tower radiations.
The Cellular Operators Association of India spokesperson claimed  most operators are already maintaining radiation levels at much below the permissible limit. “Though the DoT has prescribed stringent norms effective from September 1, the industry is already complying to the stricter norms,” he said.
However, activists complained  there was no effective mechanism in place. “Cellphone tower operators are allowed self-certification for radiation levels emitted by their towers. How can citizens trust it?” said Milind Bembalkar, member, Mobile Tower Grievance Forum.