by Somit Sen, The Times of India, 23 July 2014
MUMBAI: Activists have petitioned telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, demanding a further reduction in the permissible levels of electro magnetic field (EMF) radiation of cell towers from 450 milliwatts /sq m to 100 milliwatts/sq m.
The activists have also demanded "citizen-friendly regulations" for mobile towers in densely populated areas, where they allege power output from antennae is beyond permissible levels. Cellular operators, however, said the existing levels were "safe" and there was no need to reduce it further.
In the petition, actress Juhi Chawla, along with other activists, has pointed out that in countries like Poland, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria and Lithuania, radiation levels have been limited to 100 milliwatts /sq m. "In India, we have different upper limits for different frequencies, resulting in our radiation being 4.5 times to 10.5 times higher than these countries. We request you (minister) to implement same frequency of 100 milliwatts /sq m for all frequencies, till such a time a further revision becomes necessary," the petition stated.
The petition comes close on the heels of the minister recently mentioning in the Parliament that citizens need not worry about radiation levels from cell towers. In his reply to a Lok Sabha question, Prasad had said: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that proves radio-frequency signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects and hence there will not be any change in the safety limits."
However, citizens, who petitioned the union minister and plan to speak to him in the next few days, said there was apprehension of health hazards for those staying in close proximity of the antennae. Prasad had, however, said in the LS: "The department of telecommunications has already prescribed EMF radiation limits, which is one-tenth of the global norms."