Drive to dispel ‘myths’ about mobile phones, towers

Our Bureau Kochi | Updated on October 10, 2014 Published on October 10, 2014

Mobile operators launch countrywide campaign

“Mobile phone towers are not injurious to health.” This could be the tagline of the national campaign by the Cellular Operators Association of India that aims to counter the “myths, lies and misinformation” about mobile-phone towers (base stations).

The campaign is trying to convince the public that lakhs of base stations that dot India’s landscape do not pose health threats to the people. Any claim to the contrary, the campaign stresses, is unscientific, baseless and motivated. (Airtel, Idea, Vodafone, Reliance Jio, Uninor and Videocon are some of the members of COAI).

‘Awareness campaign’

“We are trying to dispel the wrong idea in people’s minds that the mobile towers in their midst can cause a number of ailments, including cancer,” Rajan S. Mathews, director general of COAI, said. “This is absolutely baseless.”

He said a large number of scientific studies carried out by telecom regulators and national health missions in Western countries as well as by the World Health Organisation could not establish any link between cancer or infertility with mobile towers and mobile use.

The ‘awareness campaign’ is an upshot of the growing people’s opposition to the setting up of mobile towers in their neighbourhoods, even as mobile phone use is leaping in the country.

This is despite the fact that there are around 100 crore mobile phones in use in the country and two-thirds of the people have access to mobile phones. Since the number of towers does not keep pace with the hike in mobile use, the quality of service suffered.

“The opposition is mainly because of people’s baseless fear about the health impact of the towers,” said VK Cherian, senior director of COAI. The fear was often whipped by vested interests, mainly local politicians out to gain future electoral mileage. So COAI decided to counter the fear with scientific information, research results and government’s regulatory norms.


A series of awareness workshops, participated by oncologists, researchers and senior Department of Telecom officials, has been held in major cities.

At an awareness drive in Kochi, AVS Suresh, a Hyderabad-based oncologist who has carried out a study on the impact of the electro-magnetic field (EMF) created around a mobile tower on the health of the people living in the neighbourhood, said the claim that emissions from the towers would cause cancer was absolutely wrong.

V Raghunandan, Deputy Director General of Telecom Enforcement, Resources and Monitoring Cell (TERM), Kerala, said the EMF levels allowed by the DoT at the mobile towers was 450 milli watts per square metre. This was just one-tenth of the level allowed by International Commission on Non-Ionzing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). But TERM was allowing a much lower level than the 450 milli watts. India’s safety standards of EMF were tougher than most Western countries’, he said, and added that the mobile towers posed no health risk at all.

Published on October 10, 2014
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