Home Radiation Faster approvals for mobile towers: the need for the moment or the increased risk of radiation?

Faster approvals for mobile towers: the need for the moment or the increased risk of radiation?

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Representation image | Photo credit: IANS

Highlights

  • IBOC, DIPA: India follows stricter standards than WHO to limit harmful effects of radiation
  • Environmental expert believes spectrum expansion and fiber-optic propagation will reduce radiation fears

New Delhi: With Union Cabinet enabling expedited approvals for mobile towers, mobile phone companies will be able to install more towers at a faster rate in cities to strengthen networks. However, it could also increase opposition to the installation of mobile towers, which various groups of Indian citizens are already opposing for fear of contracting dangerous radiation. But how true are these fears?

In 2015, the Union Ministry of Health told Parliament: “The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has informed that a number of studies have reported radiation exposure from cell phones causing adverse effects. harmful to health. But there is no conclusive data available to date. On this issue, however, the growing body of scientific evidence points to some biological effects and possible adverse health effects of radio frequency radiation (RFR) that merit further investigation. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified in 2011 the radiofrequency radiation / electromagnetic field emitted by cordless telephones in the carcinogenic category. Various countries have developed health-based precautionary guidelines for exposure to electromagnetic fields from cell phone towers, including India. “

However, the former CEO of COAI (Association of Cellular Operators of India) Rajan Mathews says there is no scientific evidence that shows the dangers of any kind from the towers. of cellular telephony when they operate within the framework of the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizers). Radiation protection), which are even more stringent in India and have been extensively tested and studied by the WHO (World Health Organization). Highlighting the global spread of operational cell towers, he says they pose no danger to people, animals, birds, insects or vegetation. It highlights the accelerated approvals and construction of cell phone towers in advanced countries to improve coverage and meet increased demand.

According to the Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA), constant statutory efforts are made to ensure security. In order to ensure compliance with the more stringent precautionary standards prescribed for mobile tower EMF radiation, the in-depth compliance audit of self-certificates submitted by telecommunications service providers and base station (BTS) sites is carried out by Telecom Enforcement Resource & Monitoring. (TERM) field units of the DoT (Department of Telecommunications). This is regularly done by TERM units in order to limit exposure to electromagnetic radiation and to secure public spaces near towers. If a BTS site violates the prescribed EMF standards, action is taken to impose a penalty of Rs. 10 lakh per BTS per incidence, including closing the BTS site in accordance with the prescribed procedure.

DIPA CEO Tilak Raj Dua told ET Now: “Mobile towers are essential for seamless connectivity. There has been a significant increase in misinformation related to the health issues posed by the towers.

While praising government policies like “liberal” and “reformist” for the rapid growth of India’s telecommunications sector, Dua said India follows standards 10 times higher than those prescribed by ICNIRP and WHO. Stating that the DoT regularly monitors the electromagnetic field emission levels of the towers through its field units to protect citizens, he added that the DIPA also conducts awareness workshops to assure people that the towers do not harm their lives. their health.

Environmentalist Anand Arya believes there is a mixed verdict when it comes to scientific studies of the effects of mobile radiation, saying that 30-year-old mobile technology is far too new to create any real impact, such as causing cancer. or any other long-term illness. While he maintains that no research is devoid of some sponsorship while seeking an unbiased opinion, he concedes that cell phones are a necessity in all walks of life and that a safe workaround must. to be developed.

Comparing examples of trouble-free telephone conversations even crossing uninhabited borders between European countries with multiple call cuts in Indian metropolitan cities, he argues for an increase in the spread of fiber optic cables to reduce the load. network on the towers. He believes that all telecom companies are working well beyond their capabilities in terms of telephone connections relative to the spectrum allocated to them, while he advocates for the allocation of additional spectrum instead of targeting telecom towers. existing. He wants a fixed number of telephone connections to be allocated for a certain amount of spectrum in order to reduce congestion and loss of calls, which often leads to an increase in the need for mobile towers.

According to a Statista report, there were 4.17 lakh of wireless mobile phone sites in the United States of America compared to 5.93 lakh of mobile towers in India in 2020 according to DIPA. The proposed deployment of the 5G network and an ever-growing subscriber base will require hundreds of thousands of new mobile towers lest the spectrum and additional fiber optics start to increase capacity significantly.

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