Citizen groups of Mumbai and anti-radiation activists have said that the government should impose stricter norms to ensure that radiations from mobile towers and antennas are reduced at the maximum level in order to protect health of its citizens.
India should have “much higher standards” and not just follow organisations like World Health Organisation (WHO), said a representative of the Citizen groups of Mumbai. “Why should India follow WHO? Norms can be much higher but what are the existing levels is what has to be seen. Norms do not affect the health of citizens but the actual existing radiation levels affect the health and causes cancer,” he said.
The views of the Citizen groups of Mumbai came following a report by Business Standard on 14 December 2013 quoting Michael Repacholi, radiation expert and first coordinator of the radiation and environment health unit of WHO, who said that the Government’s decision to reduce power of mobile tower base stations or antennas had actually increased the emission hazard for mobile-phone users as mobile handsets would transmit more frequency to stay connected to the network if the power of the cellular tower is being reduced.
The Citizen groups claim that there has not been any reduction in “power of the mobile towers”, and power transmitted continues to remain at 20 watts per antenna.
In September 2012, the DoT had reduced the permissible radiation limits for tower firms to 0.45 watts per sq metre for cellular operators. This is one-tenth of International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) norms, Repacholi had said last month.
The Citizen groups said that only way to reduce health hazards due to radiation from cellular towers can be done is by reducing the power transmitted to 10% or 2 watts and increasing the number of antenna at shorter distances. “Yes , the costs of infrastructure for the operators will go up which they can recover from their customers. But presently there is no increase in costs,” said the Citizen groups in e-mailed statement.
There are about 800 million mobile users in India with more than a billion mobile handsets, connected through about 375,000 towers. In the past few years, health activists and residents’ organisations have repeatedly opposed establishment of telecom towers on rooftops and in densely populated areas, claiming radiation from such installations caused serious health risks, such as cancer.