Mobile network operators have until November 15 to act on guidelines the department of telecommunications (DoT) has formulated to control radiation from mobile phone towers.
The DoT has instructed cellular network operators to submit compliance reports by mid-November, after which DoT officials will conduct random checks to see whether norms to control radiation are being followed.
Errant service operators will have to pay a fine of Rs 5 lakh.
AL Pandey, deputy director general, Telecom Enforcement Resources and Monitoring, a DoT body, confirmed that the department would conduct random checks. “There have been regular complaints about how operators flout guidelines on radiation because it suits their commercial interests,” Pandey said. “We have issued circulars telling them to follow the guidelines.”
Pandey said the city has more than 20,000 mobile phone towers, also called Base Transmitter Stations, which 10 mobile service providers share. Many of these are atop residential buildings.
The Hindustan Times had last week reported that even as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation dithers on forming regulations to control radiation emitted through mobile phone towers, citizens are increasingly turning towards experts for answers.
Experts say penalising errant operators is not enough and say that the guidelines on radiation levels are outdated.
India has adopted guidelines laid down by the International Commission for Non Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNRIP), an independent German body, on exposure to radiation. These guidelines limit exposure to Radio Frequency fields (of the 1800MHz spectrum) to 9.2 watts per square metre.
Girish Kumar, professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay), said, “The problem here is that the guidelines are so high, in terms of allowing radiation to be emitted, that imposing a penalty won’t make a difference. The guidelines are so outdated that even strict compliance with them won’t make people’s lives any safer.”
A DoT official, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said setting regulatory standards was the first step. “In due course, we’ll upgrade our standards according to studies done.”