Uniform guidelines being issued to State Governments

In a move to address growing concerns over radiation emanating from cellular towers, the Department of Telecom will make it mandatory for telecom companies to get technical clearance from the Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) Cell.

Tower firms will also have to get a structural stability certificate from neutral entities such as the Indian Institute of Technology and the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI).

Certification

The TERM Cell, the monitoring wing of the DoT, will have to certify that tower locations are not facing school, hospital and a distance of at least 50 metres is maintained. It will also make sure that there are no nearby buildings with highest comparable to that of the antenna and within a distance of 80 metres. The DoT is also formulating uniform guidelines for State Government agencies for granting permission to mobile companies to erect towers.

“Due to non-availability of uniform guidelines on installation of tower, State Government/local bodies are facing many issues, including health-related issues from mobile towers. In order to streamline the procedure for clearance for locating of mobile tower across the country, the DoT has devised certain uniform procedures that are proposed to be adopted by all Stat Governments for grant of permission for installation of mobile towers by the telecom service providers,” said a top DoT official.

This is in addition to the new radiation norms that kick in on September 1. The new norms require operators to reduce the electromagnetic radiation emanating from every tower by one-tenth of existing permissible limits.

Random test

But mobile companies have told the Government that they would have to reduce tower density in thickly populated urban areas if they have to meet the new norms. They claim that this will result in blank patches in networks which would result in poor coverage.

But the Department is unlikely to buy the operators’ claims. An internal document on random tests done by the Telecom Engineering Centres, the technical wing of the DoT, shows that no more than 5 per cent of the existing towers could get impacted. According to experts in the DoT, the operators can easily plug the gaps in these limited locations through new technologies.

thomas.thomas@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 30, 2012)
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