Milind Deora, who is also the MP from Mumbai South constituency, has been instrumental in the setting up of the complaint handling system to redress the grievances of citizens about high radiation levels. Excerpts from the interview:
What made you decide to launch the complaint handling system in Mumbai first?
An internal report prepared by the department of telecommunications indicated that mobile operators in Mumbai and other metros were responsible for a considerable number of violations. Based on the response we receive in Mumbai, we will be launching similar systems in other metros.
How will this system help the department regulate radiation violations in the city?
The system will help build up the capacity to measure and monitor radiation levels. At present, the Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cell in the city does not have adequate equipment to attend to citizens’ complaints.
Also, by levying a penalty on service providers who are violating norms, we will ensure greater accountability. We will charge a nominal fee of Rs. 4,000 from citizens to discourage complaints by vested interests.
Many activists and citizens allege that the lowered permissible radiation level for mobile towers of 450 milliwatts/sq m is still too high.
By reducing the permissible limit of electromagnetic frequency radiation emitted by mobile towers to 1/10th of the former limit of 4,500 milliwatts/sq m, India now has one of the most stringent exposure norms in the world. The norms were decided keeping in mind the health and safety of the public.