A month after the Delhi High Court issued notices to the Delhi government and the Centre in a petition to stop installation of mobile towers near residential areas,Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has formed a committee under the environment secretary to investigate radiation hazards.
The committee will include members from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC),the Environment department,the three municipal bodies,and Health department.
Speaking to Newsline after the meeting,Sheila Dikshit said,We have been receiving a lot of conflicting reports from different quarters about the possible harmful effects of radiation from mobile phone towers. A few resident associations have also complained that mobile phone towers in residential areas cause nuisance. We have now formed a committee to validate these claims,and also explore whether big mobile towers can be replaced with more compact devices that are safe.
Health minister Dr A K Walia had also chaired a meeting with scientists from ICMR and JNU last month to discuss the possibility of introducing radiation limits for mobile towers and handsets.
In the ongoing case before the Delhi HC,the petitioner had alleged that his son died of cancer,contracted from a tower installed on the roof of his house. According to sources,the committee has been asked to scientifically document the quantum of risk associated with the radio-frequency waves emitted from these towers.
Following the recommendations of an inter-ministerial panel on this issue last year,the department of telecommunications had issued orders to reduce the prevailing radiation exposure limit from mobile towers to 1/10th from 9.2 to 0.92 watt/square metre from September 1 this year.
The eight-member inter-ministerial panel from the Ministries of Communications,Information Technology,Health,Environment,and Department of Biotechnology had recommended last year that such towers should not be constructed near residential areas,schools,and hospitals.
A senior official from the Environment department,who attended the meeting,said: The Delhi government will address the issue from a very neutral approach. We will become the first state to investigate the radiation emitted by towers,with help of IIT and the Indian Council of Medical Research.