In a surprise check conducted in Mumbai, government officials found seven telecom operators violating the new radiation norms. In its official statement, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has affirmed that government officials, during their surprise check, found 11 BTSs (Base Tower Stations) belonging to Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices Maharashtra, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Aircel and Loop Telecom emitting radiations exceeding the permissible limits specified in the new radiation norms. 

A revision of existing standards is likely to happen soon

A revision of existing standards is likely to happen soon

The telecom operators have now been issued notices, to the effect that they stop emitting radiations from their BTSs at those sites immediately. Further in its statement, DoT has asserted that the BTSs can begin functioning only after it has been verified by Telecom Enforcement and Resource Monitoring (TERM) Cell, Mumbai that the sites adhere to the new radiation norms. 

As per the report further, Cellular Operators Association of India’s (COAI) Director-General, Rajan S Mathews opines that operators should be given some time to “ascertain about towers which are non-compliant.” In a statement to PTI, a DoT official stated, “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.”

According to a recent report, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), received an advisory from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) asking it to ensure that no new mobile towers are constructed within a radius of one kilometre of the existing ones. Reports at the time indicated that the advisory came at the end of the MoEF's review of scientific information put forth by its expert panel. 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”.

Under these new norms, the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value will be down to a revised 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) from the earlier 2 W/kg. The SAR essentially measures the rate at which the body absorbs energy when exposed to a radio frequency electromagnetic field or electronic devices using radio spectrum. 

Starting this month, the government began implementing rigorous checks on the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones. A set of precautionary guidelines were introduced by the government for mobile users. It advised them to keep distance between the body and the phone, by either using the speakerphone option or headsets.

Further in its new guidelines, the government advises users to limit the length of their voice calls and resort to messaging instead. The guidelines suggest that if the user has a choice between making calls from a mobile phone and a landline, he or she should go for the latter. Mobile phone users should make calls from a location where the signal is strong. “If the radio signal is weak, a mobile phone will increase its transmission power. Find a strong signal and avoid movement, use your phone where reception is good,” it added. 

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