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Random checks on cell towers

mumbai Updated: Nov 22, 2010 01:27 IST
Kunal Purohit
Kunal Purohit
Hindustan Times
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The city’s mobile towers are up for testing which may lead to a change in the way they operate.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has begun randomly testing radiation emitted by towers across the city, and see if they fall below limits.

Two sites in the city were tested last week. The radiation emitted out of them was found to be normal.

Experts, however, are already dismissive of the plan and have called it ‘meaningless’.

Hindustan Times had last month reported on how the DoT had issued a directive to all cellular operators to lower the radiation emitted by their towers and submit compliance reports.

AL Pandey, deputy director general, Telecom Enforcement Resources and Monitoring, a DoT body said, “We had given operators a deadline till November 15, after which we scrutinised their reports. We have now started conducting surprise checks across the city’s towers to gauge the levels of radiation emitted by them.”

Accordingly, in the first phase, around 200 towers will be checked, after which an overall review will be conducted.

“These tests will now be a never-ending feature, since we plan to keep conducting these tests on various mobile tower sites. This way, we’ll keep a check on cellular services operators, who flout the norms,” Pandey said.

Some people, however, are not impressed by the move. Advocate Shekhar Hattangadi, an expert in environmental studies, said “This move to give the operators a self-certification by telling them to submit compliance reports is flawed in itself. In addition, how do we know if any of these reports as well as these random tests are authentic?”

An ex-DoT official, on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media said “Bringing in such a system is actually a way of ushering in more corruption because officials then get a chance to wield more power and negotiate with erring operators.”

Hattangadi added that even if the tests were authentic, the norms itself are so flawed that their implementation does little good.

Pandey, however, said that it’s a start. “We will ensure that it’s implemented strictly so that there is some order in the system.”