Radiation from mobile towers may harm wildlife

Radiation from mobile towers may have varying negative impact on wildlife, especially birds and bees, according to the Environment Ministry. Amid concerns over health hazards and impact on wildlife due to mobile tower radiation, the Environment Ministry has issued an advisory asking the Department of Telecommunications not to permit new mobile towers within a one-km radius of older ones.

Noting there was a need to prevent the negative impact of electro-magnetic radiations (EMR) on birds and bees, the Ministry directed that the new towers should be constructed with utmost care and precautions "so as not to obstruct flight path of birds, and also not to increase the combined radiation from all towers in the area".

"To prevent overlapping of high-radiation fields, new towers should not be permitted within a radius of one km of older towers. The sharing of passive infrastructure if made mandatory for Telecom Service Providers can minimise the need of having additional towers," it said.

The advisory has been issued on the basis of an expert committee study on the possible impact of communication towers on wildlife and bees. The panel was constituted by the Environment Ministry in 2010.

The Ministry asked the DoT that location and frequencies of cell phone towers and other towers emitting EMR should be made available in the public domain.

"This can be at city/district/village level. Location-wise GIS mapping of all cellphone towers should be maintained which would help in monitoring the population of birds and bees in and around the mobile towers and also in and/or around wildlife protection areas," the advisory said.

It said that there was an "urgent need" to refine the Indian standard on safe limits of exposure to EMR. Till the Indian standard is reformed, a precautionary approach shall be preferred to minimise the exposure levels and adopt stricter norms possible, without compromising on optimum performance of the networks, it said.

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