Communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, keen to resolve the issue of call drops, is willing to take two steps forward if telecom operators take one. As one of those steps, Prasad has come out in support of telecom towers, which, he says, are not health hazards.
Prasad spoke to HT about the need for learning and understanding.
Operators complain about towers being pulled down, resulting in call drops.
There have been instances of some people bringing down towers or not allowing them to be installed. I wish to appeal to all that if there is any proof that establishes a direct link between health problems and the radiation from telecom towers, bring it to me. A solution to call drops and bringing down towers cannot happen together.
But there are reports that radiation from towers is harmful.
As the telecom minister, I am aware of such reports and also reports by organisations like the World Health Organisation. The WHO has confirmed that the level of radiation from towers does not affect health. I have also consulted IIT professors and they have said the same thing. The expert committee set up by the Allahabad HC also came to the same conclusion.
So is there no radiation from the towers?
Currently, the limit on EMF (electromagnetic field) radiation from base stations in India is set at a tenth of the global (ICNIRP) norms. Telecom Enforcement Resource & Monitoring (TERM) field units of the DoT regularly monitor the towers for radiation. If a tower or mobile site violates the radiation level, a penalty of `10 lakh per site per incidence is levied. Sites can be closed if found to be regularly flouting norms.
Can the general public also complain to the TERM cell?
Yes, the general public can call or meet the official at the local TERM office of the DoT and request a radiation test. We encourage residents’ welfare associations to use the facility. We need people to understand the issue and not get agitated based on unsubstantiated reports.