Seven telecom operators, including RCom, Tata Teleservices Maharashtra, Airtel and Vodafone have been found violating radiation norms laid down by the government after a random check conducted by officials at a location in Mumbai.
"11 BTSs (Base Tower Stations) of Reliance Communications, TTML, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Aircel and Loop Telecom were found radiating beyond permissible limits of the new radiation norms when measurements were carried out in some houses facing the nearby BTS antenna," the Department of Telecom (DoT) said in an official statement.
"Orders were issued to the 7 operators to stop radiating from these BTSs with immediate effect," it added.
Functioning of the BTSs may be resumed only after the sites are made compliant and information to that effect is verified by the Telecom Enforcement and Resource Monitoring (TERM) Cell, Mumbai, the statement said.
When contacted, industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) — which represents the GSM players — director general Rajan S Mathews said the operators should be given some time to ascertain about towers which are non-compliant.
CDMA industry body AUSPI offered no immediate comment.
A DoT official said, "Show cause notices will be issued to these companies on penal action but keeping in mind public health as top priority, we ordered them to shut down these BTSs immediately."
The new radiation norms, applicable from September, have lowered the limit of emission from telecom towers by one-tenth compared to earlier levels.
Under the new guidelines, emissions from the telecom antenna mounted on mobile towers should be equivalent to the frequency range in which the antenna operates. Like, an antenna operating in the frequency range of 400 Mhz will be allowed to emit 400 watt of energy per 2,000 square metre of area.
Also, it has set minimum distance of a tower (with two antenna) which will be 35 metres from a residential building. There is also a norm to impose a penalty of Rs. 5 lakh per BTS (antenna system at a tower site) per service provider.