Friday, August 31, 2012





INDIA is becoming known for its indifference to Public Health, Natural hazards and man-made hazards.

Modern Technology, in some cases, madly rushes into areas where there are deep, unknown, hidden hazards. It is OK as long as this experimentation is confined to Laboratories and, away from human habitations. But, we are doing it in human habitations –and on human beings. That too – without reasonable safeguards.

The mind-set is – we must keep up with the west. Be it Nuclear Power generation, or cell phone proliferation, we want to keep up with and if possible, be one up on the west.

But, when the west changes, we don’t change to their level of enhanced safety precautions.

India madly embraces such technologies without adequate safe guards. Where this indifference will land us is something – we will see only when the Hazard happens and affects human lives adversely.

On 31st,August,2012 (Yesterday), the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology31 has brought into operation more Stringent Mobile Radiation Standards.

It says, all New Mobile Handsets must comply with SAR Value of 1.6Watts/KG and it  has introduced Penalty and Random Checks for Enforcement. We can of course, feel happy, saying, Better late than Never.

The announcement pats itself saying - Beginning tomorrow (1st September 2012), India will be among the select few countries in the world to have stringent EMF( Electromagnetic Frequency)  Radiation Standards, established in the interest of public health, for mobile towers and mobile handsets. Indian standards would now be 10 times more stringent than more than 90% countries in the world.

The following are the highlights of the Standards :

Mobile Towers (EMF Radiation Norms)

Ø EMF ( Electromagnetic Frequency) exposure limit (Base Station Emissions) has been lowered to 1/10th of the existing ICNIRP exposure level, effective 1st Sept. 2012.

Ø Telecom Enforcement Resource & Monitoring (TERM) Cells have been entrusted with the job of conducting audit on the self certification furnished by the Service Providers. TERM Cell will carry out test audit of 10% of the BTS site on random basis and on all cases where there is a public complaint. 

Ø Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) has revised the Test Procedure for measurement of EMF for verification of EMF compliance for BTS towers in accordance with new standards.

Ø For non-compliance of EMF standards, a penalty of Rs. 5 lakhs is liable to be levied per BTS per Service Provider.

Ø The BTS site details i.e. self certification, registration with TERM Cell, test results etc. is proposed to be provided on DoT web site for General Public information.

Mobile Handsets

Ø All the new design of mobile handsets shall comply with the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR)   values of 1.6 W/kg averaged over 1 gram of human tissue w.e.f. 1st Sept. 2012.

Ø The mobile handsets with existing designs which are compliant with 2.0 W/kg averaged over 10 gram of human tissue, will continue to co-exist up to 31st August 2013. From 1st Sept. 2013, only the mobile handsets with revised SAR value of 1.6 W/kg would be permitted to be manufactured or imported in India.

Ø SAR value information display on the mobile handsets like IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) display. The information on SAR values to be made available to the consumer at the point of sale.

Ø Mobile hand set manufactured and sold in India or imported from other countries shall be checked on random basis for compliance of SAR limit after TEC SAR Laboratory is set up by end of 2012. Test results from international accredited labs will be acceptable in the interim period.

Ø The manufacturers in India will provide self declaration of SAR value of the handset.

Ø Manufacturer’s mobile handset booklet will contain safety precautions.

Ø All cell phone handsets sold in the market in India will comply with relevant standards and shall be available in hand free mode.

SAR Test Laboratory:

Ø  SAR Test Laboratory is being set up in Telecom Engineering Centre for testing of SAR value of mobile handsets imported/ manufactured in India. 

New National SAR Standards from Telecom Engineering Centre

Ø  National SAR standards from Telecom Engineering Centre are being finalized. 

Measuring Instruments:

Ø DoT is procuring EMF radiation measuring instruments for TERM cell units.

Ø Outsourcing for EMF radiation measurement for BTS towers is also being considered.

Expert  Group Study:

Ø  A scientific study in India-specific context is being undertaken jointly by Dept. of Telecom and Dept. of Science & Technology in collaboration with ICMR, MOEF & Min of Science & Technology to derive norms based on credible scientific evidence taking into account diversity of Indian social context.

Guidelines to State Government:

Ø  Department of Telecommunication has released Guidelines covering BTS Towers so that some consistency gets evolved on setting up of BTS towers. Guidelines have been placed on DoT website.

Guidelines for Consumers :

Guidelines for consumers on Mobile handset usage have been issued and hosted on DoT Web site ( for general public awareness.

Some of them are :

1.    Keep distance – Hold the cell phone away from body to the extent possible.

2.    Use a headset (wired or Bluetooth) to keep the handset away from your head.

3.    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:

5.    Use text as compared to voice wherever possible.

6.    Put the cell phone on speaker mode.

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.

Radiation Booklet :

Ø  A booklet addressing possible queries from mobile telecom users on radiation-related issues along with other informative inputs is also being placed on DoT website.

TEC Test Procedures Document for Service Providers and Term Cell Units:

Ø  TEC has revised the Test Procedure for measurement of EMF elaborating the methodology, calculations, measurements and report formats for verification of EMF compliance for BTS towers in accordance with new standards effective from 1st Sept. 2012. This will be applicable for all Mobile Service Providers and Term Cell Units to verify compliance.

Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications & IT has  ensured that the new EMF Radiation standards get implemented through close co-ordination with the industry.

The guidelines underline the Government’s efforts at providing the best possible Telecom services across the country without compromising on public safety and /human health.

MY COMMENTS :- This was long overdue. Is this enough? Listening to some experts, I feel, it is not enough. The radiation levels must come down still further. For instance, very near to my home, there are several towers in close proximity. What is their combined effect? Each tower may claim to be within LIMITS. But, what is the overall radiation?

(1) India must establish cell phone and cell tower manufacture within India and experiment exhaustively on it – to evolve the BEST POSSIBLE CELL PHONE TECHNOLOGY within India. This is a primary requirement. Being better than 90% of the nations is not GOOD ENOUGH. Those 90% of the Nations put together may not have the number of cell phones that we, as one nation, use. Also, India must stop untested, un certified (Like, the Chinese manufactured) instruments which are proliferating all across India. Untested – implies HIGHER RISK.

(2) Some Experts have said that – the level of radiation must come down much further-even per tower and per cell phone. The Independent regulator TRAI must be duty-bound to conduct checks, monitor radiation levels, their effects on environment, the scientific methods to protect against radiation, and so on. But, unless, manufacture of Towers and cell phones also happens in India,  we cannot completely ensure the levels that we may desire. The reason is – India has one of the densest populations in the world -  in our cities – where TOWERS are in huge proliferation. What applies to US or UK may therefore be utterly insufficient for Indian population.

(3) We find, many of the functions are kept within DOT – and the Regulator TRAI is kept out. In respect of Stock Markets, SEBI is the Regulator performing ALL SUCH FUNCTIONS – and this has led to vast improvements in stock market functioning. It is SEBI which conducts most of the checks on ALL STOCK MARKET PARTICIPANTS, levies penalties and so on. In Telecom also, it must be TRAI, under whose jurisdiction, the checking, levying Penalties etc happens. Let DOT make Policies; let TRAI oversee the function and suggest improvements.

All said – the Government certainly deserves appreciation for taking this action – of reducing the radiation levels applicable to CELL TOWERS and CELL PHONES. It has also done well to OFFICIALLY PUBLISH THE Dos and DON’TS on cell phone Use.

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