Citizens want the permissible radiation limit to be reduced from the current norm of 450 milliwatts/square metre, saying that it is much higher than developed countries.
A fortnight ago, the Union government launched the complaint-handling system to measure radiation emitted from mobile towers in the city. According to data provided by the union department of telecommunications (DoT), of the 62 complaints attended to so far, none of the mobile towers have violated the permissible limit. So far, 235 complaints have been registered.
"Without reducing the permissible limit, what is the point of charging residents Rs4,000 for measuring suspected high radiation from mobile towers in their neighbourhood?" asked advocate Shekhar Hattangadi, an expert in environmental studies. Citing international studies done on the issue, Hattangadi added that the permissible limit was very high compared to other developing nations.
Refuting these arguments, union minister for communications and information technology, Milind Deora, claimed that if there was no registration fee of Rs4,000, the government would have received several frivolous complaints. "While the Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cells conduct random checks on 10% of the city's mobile towers, the new system attends to every citizen complaint. Private players in the business used to charge a much higher price to measure individual complaints," said Deora.
Citizens, who have used the new system, allege that not all parameters were addressed while measuring the radiation. "The norms haven't been framed keeping in mind a city like Mumbai. There are two-storey buildings that have mobile towers placed on the terrace. In the same vicinity, there are taller buildings, which are subjected to direct radiation emitted from these towers," said Jitendra Gupta, a Kurla resident, who registered a complaint according to the new system. "By claiming to impose a Rs5 lakh fine on those defaulting mobile tower operators, there is a higher probability of corruption and bribery," rued Gupta, who alleged that there was a possibility of manipulation of measured readings.