20 May 2016
Report on Possible Impacts of Communication Towers on Wildlife Including Birds and Bees (Government of India, 2010)
Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, 2010 (Extracts)
India is one of the fastest growing mobile telephony industries in the world. It is estimated that by 2013, 1 billion plus people will be having cell phone connection in India. With the growth of cell phone subscriber, it has also lead to growth of infrastructure in the form of mobile phone towers. Today, in absence of any policy on infrastructure development and location of cell phone towers, large number of mobile phone towers are being installed in a haphazard manner across urban and sub urban habitats in India.
Along with the growth of phone towers and subscribers, India is also witnessing a rapid population growth. To feed and support this rapidly growing population the agricultural security and the factors influencing them should be of concern. However, the population of many species such as honey bees, which is one of the most important pollinator and important factor for agricultural productivity, has seen a drastic population drop.
Throughout the world there has been a growing movement to adopt a precautionary approach. The WHO defines the Precautionary Principle as a risk management concept that provides a flexible approach to identify and manage possible adverse consequences to human health even when it has not been established that the activity or exposure constitutes harm to health.
It is the WHO’s view that scientific assessments of risk and science-based exposure limits should not be undermined by the adoption of arbitrary cautionary approaches. The compliance of mobile phone networks and handsets with the ACMA regulations is regarded as a prudent and cautious approach to ensure that the community is not adversely affected by, but benefits from developments in communications.
The Department Of Telecom has constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee to examine the effect of EMF Radiation on health. The report of the committee is placed in DOT website. The IMC report is under examination of DOT at present...
The review of existing literature shows that the EMRs are interfering with the biological systems in more ways than one and there had already been some warning bells sounded in the case on bees (Warnke 2007; vanEngelsdorp et al. 2010; Gould 1980; Sharma and Neelima R Kumar 2010) and birds, which probably heralds the seriousness of this issue and indicates the vulnerability of other species as well. Despite a few reassuring reports (Galloni et al. 2005), a vast majority of published literature indicate deleterious effects of EMFs in various species. The window of frequency range and exposure time required to make measurable impacts would vary widely among species and unfortunately we do not have any such data available for most of our free-living floral and faunal species in India. There is an urgent need to focus more scientific attention to this area before it would be too late.
Microwave and radiofrequency pollution appears to constitute a potential cause for the decline of animal populations (Balmori 2006; Balmori and Hallberg 2007; Balmori Martínez 2003; Joris and Dirk 2007; Summers-Smith 2003) and deterioration of health of plants and humans living near radiation sources such as phone masts. Studies have indicated the significant non-thermal long-term impacts of EMFs on species, especially at genetic level which can lead to various health complications including brain tumours (glioma), reduction in sperm counts and sperm mobility, congenital deformities, Psychiatric problems (stress, ‘ringxity’, sleep disorders, memory loss etc.) and endocrine disruptions. However similar aspects are yet to be studied among animal populations.
Pollution from EMRs being a relatively new environmental issue, there is a lack of established standard procedures and protocols to study and monitor the EMF impacts especially 22 among wildlife, which often make the comparative evaluations between studies difficult. Moreover, there are no long-term data available on the environmental impacts of EMRs as of now. Well-designed long-term impact assessment studies would be required to monitor the impact of ever-increasing intensities of EMRs on our biological environment. Meanwhile the precautionary principle should prevail and we need to better our standards on EMF to match the best in the world.
Studies on impact of Cell phone tower radiation on Birds and wildlife are almost nonexistent from India. There is an urgent need for taking up well designed studies to look into this aspect. Available information from the country on the subject of EMF impacts is restricted to few reports from honey-bees. However, these studies are not representative of the real life situations or natural levels of EMF exposure. More studies need to be taken up to scientifically establish if any, the link between the observed abnormalities and disorders in bee hives such as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Report in full: