Telecom industry relieved over court ruling on mobile towers

Telecom relieved over court ruling
New Delhi, Sep 21: The latest verdict of the Gujarat High Court that base stations for wireless data and mobile communications pose no threat to health if prescribed norms are followed will have far-reaching impact on erasing people's fears, say industry experts.

The 25-page order of a Gujarat High Court bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J.B. Pardiwala said authorities concerned must also educate people that they had no reason to fear for their health due to radio frequency emissions from these base stations in their vicinity.

The order came in the light of a civil appeal by some residents of an Ahmedabad neighbourhood wanting a direction to the authorities to disallow Reliance Jio, which is seeking to extend pan-India 4G services, from using a mobile base station in their neighbourhood.

Reacting to the verdict, K.S. Parthasarathy, former secretary in the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, said the confusion has been created by some companies that are indulging in false propaganda "that mobile tower radiation is bad".

"In the majority of the cases, the radiation levels are within specified limits. It is so low it hardly has an impact. In India, the specified limit is one-tenth the global norms - 90 percent of the countries follow the international limit," Parthasarathy told IANS.

He said some mischief-mongers were showing morphed and scary pictures of the ill-effects of mobile tower emissions. That's why the court verdict was a step in the right direction.

"This is a good decision," he said on the court wanting the authorities to propagate the correct scenario through various media.

The petitioners feared that since the base station in question was just outside the garden of their residential premises, they would be exposed to constant radiation, which could cause severe health hazards - a premise that was dismissed by the court.

The central government, another respondent, told the court that the fear was baseless. Similar suits were filed in the past and the court decisions have also been similar - but for cases where the norms were flouted.

The government said this was also the conclusion of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which was communicated through Fact Sheet No. 304 of May 2006 on electromagnetic fields and public health.

The court ruled: "Considering the very low exposure levels and the research-results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects."

In any case, the court said, there are now strict regulations for companies to follow.

"We are gratified that the Gujarat High Court has recognized the safety measures of the Government of India. It is one of the best in the world. Citizens can feel safe," said Rajan S. Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators' Association of India.

"The court has also recognized the need for the authorities to do more to make the public aware of safety measures and help remove their fears. Our association is actively working on this initiative," Mathews told IANS.

"We believe addressing these concerns will be key to meeting the government's objective of broadband-on-demand for all citizens of India."


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