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'No new mobile towers without fulfilling mandatory provisions'

Concerned over the health hazards, National Green Tribunal restrains telecom firms from settting up towers

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Concerned over the health hazards likely to be caused by cell phone towers, the National Green Tribunal has restrained several telecom firms from setting them up without following mandatory provisions of law and taking permission from the competent authority.

"Considering gravity of allegations levelled and health hazard likely to be caused, we direct that no construction of cell phone communication towers shall be made without following mandatory provisions of law and necessary permission from competent authority," a NGT bench of Acting Chairperson Justice A S Naidu and expert member P C Mishra has said.

Issuing notice to the Ministry of Communications and IT, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Ministry of Health, Securities and Exchange Board of India and telecom firms -- Bharti Infratel Ltd, Airtel, Idea, Vodaphone, Tata, Reliance and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the NGT has sought their response by the next date of hearing on December 20.

The tribunal's order came on the plea of Delhi resident Arvind Gupta, who has sought directions to the Centre and the telecom firms for implementing guidelines and regulations issued by MoEF regarding installation of cell phone towers nationwide.

In his application, filed through advocate B P Tripathy, Gupta has alleged that MoEF guidelines have not been followed and implemented by Department of Telecommunications while allowing installation of towers throughout the country.

He has also alleged that "norms are flouted brazenly by all companies involved with installation of mobile towers, having complete disregard and concern for environmental protection".

Gupta has alleged that radiations emitted by towers not only adversely affect flora and fauna, but can also cause cancer in human beings.

He has further alleged that the Centre and telecom firms have not devised rules and guidelines for implementing existing regulations pertaining to installation of telecom towers so that environmental exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted by them will be minimised.

In his application, he has sought constituting of a high powered committee of experts to lay guidelines for limiting cell phone tower radiation before installing any new towers.

He has further sought directions to market regulator SEBI to restrain it from granting permission to any company to invite investments from general public for installing cell phone towers for private profits, saying it will lead to "irreparable environmental damage and health hazards to human lives...".

The applicant has also sought transfer of all the cases related to mobile tower radiation from the high courts to NGT.

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First Published: Thu, November 22 2012. 13:37 IST