Indian Express - May 11 2013
Service providers may soon be able to install mobile towers at any location, irrespective of land use. The department of telecommunications (DoT) has issued a new set of guidelines effective June 1 that run contrary to a BMC draft policy of last year that proposed banning new towers on hospital and school premises.
Minister of state for communications and IT and shipping Milind Deora said, "Since September 2012, the norms have been made 10 times more stringent. These are model guidelines, based on which we want all state governments, municipalities and panchayats to frame policies on structural safety and permits. We don't want municipalities or states to get into the health safety aspect as we have already formed a group to do an India-centric study. In model guidelines, we have given minimum space distance, we want states/municipalities to look at that. We also want them to focus on structural safety, stability, aesthetics and other issues."
Earlier this year, towers atop Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai were deactivated citing a 2010 BMC policy that did not permit such infrastructure on top of hospitals and schools.
Several resident associations in South Mumbai have been campaigning aggressively on the issue claiming radiation from towers atop buildings was affecting health of citizens.
A challenge to a Rajasthan High Court order to remove mobile phone towers near schools and hospitals is being heard in Supreme Court.
The DoT guidelines reiterate that telecom enforcement resource and monitoring (TERM) cells would deal with all radiation-related technical details.
As per the guidelines, telecom operators will have to establish that all general public areas where mobile towers have been installed are in safe electromagnetic field exposure limits at peak traffic time or adhere to safe distances specified.
"The revised guidelines are a welcome relief and result of continuous interaction between DoT, state governments and the industry. It moves in the right direction of allowing the industry to grow with appropriate safety standards in place. DoT has instructed all states to make regulations on a par with the guidelines. This way, the industry will not have to deal with different regulations on location of cellphone towers. Safety norms established by DoT are for everyone. Hence, the notion of excluding schools and hospitals is inappropriate," said Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India.