By Richa Chakravarty
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) jointly carried out a study to measure the levels of electromagnetic radiation being emitted by cellphone towers. The study was conducted in three major cities covering 180 locations in Delhi, 96 in Mumbai and 24 in Pune. Being the first of its kind, this report dismisses all concerns and myths associated with electric and magnetic field (EMF) radiation. With the density of cellphone towers being the highest in Delhi compared to other places, it was the first and obvious choice to begin conducting the study.
Experts from leading engineering institutes like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)–Madras, Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TCE) and Centre for Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWIT) revealed that the EMF radiation levels from cellphone towers are 100 times below international safety guidelines. Adopting international standards on public health and safety in 2008 by the Government of India (ICNIRP guidelines)made it mandatory for Indian companies to adhere to the prescribed limits on base station antennae (BSA) for general public exposure. “It is one of the first studies carried out in the Indian environment to assess the level of emissions from mobile towers. We are happy to note that the cumulative emissions are much below the prescribed limits and that the service providers in India are complying with the safety norms,” informs Prof PR Goundan, joint director, CEWIT, Chennai.
The report of the Delhi study has been submitted to the inter-ministerial committee set up by the telecom ministry on the EMF issue. “The ministry has reviewed the report and is pleased that the industry is taking independent measures to safeguard the health of citizens by ensuring compliance with the Government of India guidelines on EMF radiation,” adds Rajan S Mathews, director general, COAI.
Telecom towers are an integral part of cellular mobile services. Considering the number of operators in each circle area, the roll out required in rural areas, the arrival of 3G services, the spectrum limitations and other factors, there will be continued need for additional towers and cell sites to meet the coverage requirements mandated by the government for those with licences. With the continued rapid rollout of cellular services and 3G around the corner, the timing of this news could not have been better.
“The study has come as good news for businesses as it shows that the equipment being used is safe and not hazardous to humans or other living beings. But concerns about health and other safeguards are a prime societal issue and cannot be associated with business. However, such studies and research on a continuous basis will provide us with accurate information based on scientific evidence to sensitise the government, regulatory agencies, the general public, and even the manufacturing and telecom industry, on the need to be in compliance with the international standards,” adds Rajan S Mathews.