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Indian Govt Approves New Norms For Mobile Tower Installation & Handsets

The Government of India has approved new electromagnetic radiation norms for mobile-phone towers and handsets, as reported by The Hindu. Starting September 1, the new norms will come into effect.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has also been working with Telecom operators to implement the new norms. The report also states that non-compliance of EMF standards, will result in a penalty of Rs 5 lakh, to be levied per base transceiver station per service provider.

Apart from that, mobile handsets with the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values of 1.6 watt/ kg averaged over 1 gram of human tissue will be allowed in India, which is 50% more stringent than current norms. Presently, mobile handsets are compliant with 2 watt/ kg averaged over 10 gram of human tissue. From September next year, mobile phones with new SAR values will be permitted to be manufactured or imported in the country.

Guidelines for issue of clearance for installation of mobile towers

DOT has also issued guidelines (.pdf) for issue of clearance for installation of mobile towers. The clearance now requires a:

  • Copy of Access Service License / IP Registration Certificate from DOT
  • Copy of SACFA clearance for the said location issued by WPC Wing of Department of Telecom.
  • Other clearance at State / Local authority level: from Pollution Control Board for DG Sets; from Fire Safety Department, if applicable; and from State Environment & Forest Dept. where necessary.
  • Copy of NOC from Building Owner.
  • Nominal one time Administrative Fee as may be decided by the Local body to recover its costs on the issue of permission for installation of Tower.
  • Electricity connection may be provided to BTS site on priority.
  • For BTS Tower, following details to be required: Data Sheet; Name of Service/Infrastructure Provider; Location;
    Tower Reference: height, weight, ground/roof top, and number of antennas planned on tower.
  •  Copy of structural stability certificate for ground based BTS.
    In case of roof top BTS towers, structural stability certificate for the building based on written approvals of authorized Chartered Structural Engineer (local bodies), Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee or reputed Engineering College like IIT, NIIT etc.
  • Avoid Base Station Antennas in narrow lanes (≤ 5 mt.)
  • In respect of roof top towers with multiple antennas, the roof top usage desirable to be totally restricted.
  • In case of both ground based towers & roof top towers, there shall be no nearby buildings right in front of the antenna with height comparable to the lowest antenna on tower at a distance threshold
  •  Formation of State and District Telecom Committees. Keeping public interest in view, there is a need of regular interactions between TERM Cell of DOT and State / District administration. Hence it is proposed to Set-up State and District Telecom Committees for review of all Telecom Infrastructure related issues at State/ District Level.

DoT has also issued a precautionary guideline (.pdf) for mobile users. The precautionary measures are as follows:

    • Hold the cell phone away from body to the extent possible.
    • Use a headset (wired or Bluetooth) to keep the handset away from your head.
    •  Do not press the phone handset against your head. Radio Frequency (RF) energy is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source — being very close increases energy absorption much more.
    •  Limit the length of mobile calls.
    • Use text as compared to voice wherever possible.
    • Put the cell phone on speaker mode.
    • If the radio signal is weak, a mobile phone will increase its transmission power. Find a strong signal and avoid movement – Use your phone where reception is good.
    • Metal & water are good conductors of radio waves so avoid using a mobile phone while wearing metal-framed glasses or having wet hair.
    • Let the call connect before putting the handset on your ear or start speaking and listening – A mobile phone first makes the communication at higher power and then reduces power to an adequate level. More power is radiated during call connecting time.
    • If you have a choice, use a landline (wired) phone, not a mobile phone.
    • When your phone is ON, don’t carry it in chest/breast or pants pocket.
    • When a mobile phone is ON, it automatically transmits at high power every one or two minutes to check (poll) the network.
    • Reduce mobile phone use by children as a younger person will likely have a longer lifetime exposure to radiation from cell phones.
    • People having active medical implants should preferably keep the cell phone at least 15 cm away from the implant.

The DoT has also released Myths and Facts sheet about Mobile stations and handsets. It states that there’s no scientific evidence of use of mobile phone to cause headaches or brain cancer. It also mentions that the consumer need not have to stay away from mobile towers necessarily, but instead have to stay away from the antenna and that too if it’s positioned at comparable height. So that would mean that the intensity of the radiation at ground level is much less or not enough to cause any harm. The World Health Organization, many national & international organizations and independent expert groups are coordinating to investigate health effects of RF radiation.

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