Bharti Airtel and Vodafone were at the top of the list of operators whose mobile towers were found violating radiation norms in an audit conducted by the telecom department, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
"During the audit carried out by Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) Cells, total 284 numbers of base transceiver stations (BTSs) installed on various mobile towers by various telecom service providers (TSPs) have been found exceeding the prescribed electromagnetic force (EMF) radiation limits as on June 30, 2017," telecom minister Manoj Sinha said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
Out of the total non-compliant mobile sites, 69 belong to Bharti Airtel and its subsidiary, 62 to Vodafone, 34 to Tata Teleservices and its subsidiaries, 32 to Reliance Communications, 22 to Idea Cellular, 20 Aircel and 11 to Loop Mobile (operations closed now), according to the data shared by the minister.
Ten base station each of state-run firm BSNL and Reliance Jio, eight of Telenor (in process of merging with Airtel), three of MTNL, two of Videocon Telecom (merged business with Airtel) and one of Sistema Shyam have been found non-compliant to radiation rules till June.
Sinha said that the main conclusion from the WHO reviews is that radiation exposures from mobile towers below limits prescribed by the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) international guidelines do not appear to have any known consequence on health.
He said that in India, norms for exposure limit for the emission from mobile towers are already 10 times more stringent than the safe limits prescribed by ICNIRP and recommended by WHO.
"Making the norms ten times stricter than what has been prescribed by ICNIRP and recommended by WHO, obviates the need for having separate norms for special localities," Sinha said. The minister said that the DoT guidelines issued to state governments on August 1, 2013 for mobile towers do not place any restriction on installation of mobile towers near residential areas, educational institutions and hospitals etc.