Private mobile towers: Report blames ‘illegal transmission’

Illegal and clandestine transmissions by private players at levels much higher than the telecom regulator-prescribed 20 Watt are leading to problems in the city, says a preliminary report by KEM Hospital submitted to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

"If the cell companies put up towers at the specified limit, they will need more towers. This does not go well with their businesses. Hence, illegal and clandestine transmissions at a higher power are used as a means to reduce the required number of towers, risking the population of RF radiations," said the report by the committee chaired by KEM Dean Dr Sandhya Kamat.

The committee was set up to prepare guidelines to be followed while installing cellphone towers in the city. It was expected to look into the permissible levels of radiation from the towers, permissible distance between the building and tower as well as installation guidelines.

Refuting the charges, Rajan Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said the new prescribed limit has been specified as 0.45 Watt per sq m and the towers are well within it. "The more the number of towers, the less is the radiation. The cumulative emission of multiple towers has to be 0.45 Watt per sq m. For the antenna, it can be a maximum of 20 Watt. The allegation that there are illegal towers is baseless. The Department of Telecommunication (DoT), without notice, conducts checks and tests towers for emission," he said.

Mathews said a study was commissioned by COAI and Association of Unified Telecom Providers of India (AUSPI) two years ago, to measure emissions from 300 locations in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. "The study was conducted at locations with the maximum complaints and with the largest number of cellphone towers. It showed that radiation levels from the cellular base stations were much below the compliance limit of International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) standards and below the new prescribed limits too," he said.

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