India cuts mobile tower radiation (EMR) limit by 90%

After delaying the move by five months on operator requests, the government of India has moved to cut down mobile tower radiation by 90%.

According to a statement given in the Parliament, the government issued an order with effect from September that reduced the maximum power permitted for cellphone towers in the country by 90%.

It was initially supposed to come into effect in April, but was vociferously opposed by mobile operators who feared that cutting the power of mobile towers by 90% would require them to install more towers to compensate.

“Directions for lowering of the mobile towers electromagnetic radiation to 1/10th of the existing prescribed limits has been issued to the mobile operators vide Department of Telecom’s letter dated 30.12.2011. These directions are effective from 01.09.2012,” the ministry of communications and IT said in a statement.

It was responding to a question by MP Jaya Bachchan about whether electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers – which are often placed on top of flats and residences in India – can cause negative health effects.

The ministry’s answer was, in effect, a ‘we don’t know’.

It said enough studies have not be conducted to say for sure whether such towers, which dot the urban landscape in India, cause health effects or not.

“The effect of emission from cell phone towers is not known yet with certainty. Department of Science and Technology has also convened a meeting on 03.07.2012 of an Expert Group on EMF radiation and recognized that the available scientific literature on the subject of health hazard from mobile tower radiation is not yet conclusive enough to derive norms based on credible scientific evidence,” it said.

India was following the radiation limits as set out by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). However, after getting multiple complaints about the alleged effects of cellphone radiation on human beings, the government of India formed an Inter Ministerial Committee.

The Committee, as a precautionary measure, recommended for lowering of the base station EMF power by 90%. The provision, which was initially postponed by 5 months, automatically came into effect in September and continues to be effective now, the government said.