Stating that reducing the power transmitted from cellphone towers significantly will bring down the energy requirement and carbon emissions substantially,Girish Kumar,senior professor at IIT Bombays electrical engineering department,has submitted a slew of recommendations to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). He was part of TRAIs open consultation on green telecommunications.
Last month,TRAI had floated a consultation paper on green telecom,which mentioned that India has over 3.1 lakh telecom towers and that 40 per cent power requirements are met by grid electricity and 60 per cent by diesel generators. It said that while the total annual consumption of diesel is two billion litres,around 5.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide is produced each year. The paper stressed on the need to reduce carbon footprint and step up efforts towards green telecom. This was followed by the open consultation with various stakeholders recently.
I recommended that power transmission must be reduced from the present 100 watt to two watt,which will reduce the radiation level. Subsequently,there will be no need of cooling the high-power amplifier and this considerably reduced power can be easily met by solar energy or other renewable sources. Since reducing the transmitted power will imply lesser distance coverage,it will require setting up of at least 10 lakh towers or repeaters or in-building solutions, said Kumar. Once the power requirement is reduced,diesel generators will not be required at most places. This will save diesel subsidy given to the telecom industry,which currently amounts to Rs 1,400 crore per year. It will also bring down the carbon footprint, he said.
Another recommendation was to discourage self-certification/regulation. I have proposed that the government must enforce stringent policies to monitor the radiation level near cell towers. Monitoring must be done by a third party and extremely heavy penalty must be handed out in case of any violation as it is directly related to the health of the people,birds,animals,trees and the environment, he said.
The consultation paper,meanwhile,received a meagre 25 responses from across the country,including three from consumer groups,two from service providers association and five from service providers. While some stakeholders said telecom systems must be optimised to reduce the overall energy consumption,some proposed reducing transmitted power considerably in the night when cellphone usage is minimal. Greater emphasis on research and developmental activities to develop better solutions and indigenous development of telecom-related products were other recommendations.