Is there a mechanism to check radiation level from telecom towers?
Some applications were filed with different departments of the Karnataka government under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get some information regarding the telecom towers in the state and the radiations caused thereby.
The application sought to know about the restrictions imposed on installing the telecom towers, criteria to set up towers on residential buildings, permissible level of radiation emitted by telecom towers, the government’s mechanism to check radiation levels and the enforcement agencies to check violations in setting up towers. The query also sought to get a copy of the study, if any, on the impact of radiation on living beings and environment.
The reply from the Department of Urban Development carried a copy of guidelines framed by the Union government on installation of Base Transceiver Station (BTS) towers. The guidelines indicate that blanket permission has been granted to the telecom companies to install telecom towers wherever they want, irrespective of land usage. As per the guidelines, a base station antenna cannot be set up in schools and hospitals as children and patients may likely be more susceptible to electro-magnetic fields.
As the reply was incomplete, the applicant approached the Karnataka State Information Commission. However, the department stated during the hearing that it had provided all the information that it had in the matter. The department accepted that neither any maximum permissible radiation limit has been imposed on the telecom companies nor are there provisions for checking and penalizing telecom firms if radiation limits and the guidelines are violated. It was submitted that neither the Union nor the State government has conducted any study on the impact of radiation on living beings and environment.