The government has issued show cause notices to various companies in 102 cases, where it found the mobile phone base station emissions to be higher than the prescribed limit. Minister of State for Communications and IT Milind Deora, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, informed that the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) initiated strict monitoring and enforced norms. Deora added that in instances of excessive radiation, the body also took corrective action. 

Reports quoted him as saying, “In 102 cases, where the base station emissions were found to be higher than the prescribed norms, corrective actions have been taken immediately and necessary show cause notices/demand notices have been issued.”

Last month, while addressing the consultative committee meeting of the ministry, Deora asserted that India is one of the very few countries in the world with the toughest EMF radiation standards, not only for mobile towers but also for mobile handsets from September 1, 2012. The subject of the meeting was electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation from mobile towers and handsets. 


Strict monitoring of radiation norms (Image credit: Getty Images)

The Department of Telecom (DoT) gave a presentation on the subject, through which members were informed that based on the recommendations of the Inter Ministerial Committee constituted by DoT in the year 2010, the limiting reference levels of electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers has been reduced to 1/10th of the limit prescribed by the ICNIRP with effect from September 1, 2012. It was also informed that the committee has also recommended adoption of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) limit to 1.6watt/Kg (averaged over 1 gm of tissue). Thus, all new designs of mobile handsets are to comply with the SAR level of 1.6 Watt/Kg averaged over a mass of 1 gram tissue w.e.f. September 1, 2012. 

Recently, in his statement to the Times of India, Rajan S Mathews, Director General – Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI), confirmed that telecom operators in Mumbai have removed 86 cellphone towers from atop buildings. Mathews said the decision came after residents complained against the proximity of these towers. Operators took steps to ensure reduced radiation (within permissible limits) from the towers. Incidentally, DoT's sources shared with TOI that 61 base trans-receiver stations (BTSs) in Mumbai had exceeded the permissible radiation levels, and that notices had been issued to the companies 'seeking corrective action'. The “corrective action” here, according to the report, would be either reducing the radiation levels or repositioning or removing the towers altogether.  

Starting September 1 last year, mobile radiation regulations in the country got stricter. The new rules implemented rigorous checks on the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones. As part of a set of precautionary guidelines, the government had issued for mobile users. It advised them to keep distance between the body and the phone, by either using the speakerphone option or headsets. In December last year, the government had declared that hands-free, which till then may have been just another accessory bundled up with a mobile phone, would soon be made mandatory to be provided with all mobile phones. The reason was that using hands-free, as opposed to answering calls the usual way, is being seen as an effective way of steering clear of radiation emissions. Switching over to SMS or other non-voice modes of communication too is preferable for evading radiation.

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