Following an order by the Rajasthan High Court, private cellphone operators in the state will be bringing the shutters down on 199 mobile towers, the Deccan Herald reports. On August 31 this year, the high court banned the installation of mobile phone towers near schools, hospitals and jails for the next 15 days. According to reports, the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) has announced that mobile towers in schools belonging to Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, MTS, Tata Docomo and Idea will face removal. The move, however, would not affect BSNL users.  

The move comes in an attempt to keep a check on the radio magnetic frequency emissions from mobile towers. 

The shortage of towers will affect the quality of services (Image credit: Getty Images)

The shortage of towers will affect the quality of services (Image credit: Getty Images)

Officials state that owing to the shortage of towers following the massive shutdown, the range of a call will be affected. They add further that replacing the towers on other permitted buildings will take 30 to 90 days. 

The COAI, in its official statement added, “Services will be hit in Vajirpur, Anandpur, Raini, Chainpur, Chainpura, Shahpura, Hansalay, Saipura, Bhatubhai and around 40 villages.”

The decision by the High Court was challenged in the Supreme Court on September 7. The Apex Court refused to stay the order by the High Court. Understandably, with so many installations banned, the quality of the services across the state will take a beating.

The report further mentions Airtel CEO Sudipto Choudhary and Idea CEO Unnipam Krishnan, as stating that with towers in schools shutting down 25 lakh users will be affected. 

The report adds further that telecom operators are planning to bring the shutters down on an additional 500 towers located near jails and hospitals.

Last month, The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as per an advisory it received from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), had been asked to ensure that no new mobile towers were constructed within a radius of one kilometre of the existing ones. According to the report by the expert panel, “electromagnetic radiations interfere with the biological systems”. The Ministry's advisory reads, “…Sharing of passive infrastructure if made mandatory for Telecom Service Providers can minimise the need of having additional towers”.

Two years ago, the MoEF had set up the expert committee to study the effect of mobile communication towers on wildlife. One of the concerns about the negative impact of mobile radiation has been the declining number of birds, particularly house sparrows, and bees. Bees play a crucial role not only in an agricultural economy like India's, but also in the natural ecosystem, for they carry out processes such as pollination.

Radiation from mobile phones has been a topic of active discussion in the country, especially at a time when the device is so popular. We had reported earlier that there was a growing need for the government to tackle the mobile phone radiation problem on a war footing. Some movement has already been initiated by the Delhi government with the impending introduction of radiation tags on mobile phones. In fact, in one of our earlier reports we had stated that beginning from September 1 this year, there would be more rigorous checks on the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones.

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