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Citizens learn about mobile phone safety

While the government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hesitate on forming regulations about radiation emitted through mobile phone towers, citizens are now increasingly turning towards experts to get a definitive answer.

mumbai Updated: Oct 11, 2010 01:28 IST
Kunal Purohit

While the government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hesitate on forming regulations about radiation emitted through mobile phone towers, citizens are now increasingly turning towards experts to get a definitive answer.

Ramesh Pai, a resident of Andheri, who had always been worried about the radiation that his mobile phone might be emitting met Hari Shetty, an engineer, an expert on issues pertaining to mobile tower radiation, and got a talk organised.

Shetty, a part of the Mobile Towers Grievance Forum, conducts several such talks with citizen groups to spread awareness about the effects of radiation from mobile phones and towers. Shetty said, “I receive an average of 10-12 calls a month, requesting a presentation.”

Meanwhile, the state’s draft guidelines on mobile phone towers are at the chief minister’s office, waiting for his approval.

Shetty is not alone. IIT professor Girish Kumar, an expert in the subject, delivered a talk on the harmful effects of radiation on Sunday, to a joint gathering of Nepean Sea Road and Altamount Road residents.

He said, “The problem is that people don’t know anything about the subject and the information available will confuse the layman. Hence, it is important to know the truth before they agree to install these towers.” Shetty and Kumar are united in their demand for stricter guidelines. Shetty said, “The state should at least frame policies to regulate the invisible radiation.”

Kumar said the current guidelines are outdated. India currently follows the International Commission for Non Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNRIP), a German independent body’s guidelines set for exposure to radiation.

“The guidelines were set in 1998, when mobile phones were just introduced. How can we continue to follow them, when other nations have moved on?” Kumar said. The ICNRIP guidelines mandate that exposure to radio frequency fields (of the 1800MHz spectrum) is 9.2 watts per square metre. “However, in countries like Russia, Bulgaria and Hungary the accepted level is 0.02 watts per square metre-which is a hundred times lesser.” Kumar said.

AL Pandey, Deputy Director-General, Telecom Enforcement, Resources and Monitoring cell (TERM) agreed with this assessment. “The network providers need to understand that business cannot be done at the cost of people’s lives. Hence, we’ve stepped in and are doing our own study before taking action against errant companies,” Pandey said.