Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed Rajya Sabha that a penalty of Rs 10.8 crore has been imposed on several telecom companies for exceeding prescribed electronic frequency (EMF) limits from mobile towers.
Among all telcos, Airtel received the maximum penalty of Rs 2.15 crore. Telecom Enforcement Resource & Monitoring (TERM) field units under Department of Telecom carries regular audits of all mobile towers and base tower stations to check emissions level.
Here is a breakdown of penalties:
- Airtel: Rs 2.15 crore
- Vodafone: Rs 1.80 crore
- Reliance: Rs 1.65 crore
- Tata Teleservices: Rs 1.45 crore
- Idea: Rs 95 lakh
- Aircel: Rs 90 lakh
- BSNL: Rs 70 lakh
- Loop: Rs 55 lakh
- Uninor: Rs 35 lakh
- MTNL: Rs 15 lakh
- Videocon: Rs 10 lakh
- Sistema Shyam: Rs 5 lakh
If we focus only on Base Tower Stations (BTS), then as of May 31, 2015, 6 BTS were found to be exceeding radiations. During 2012-13, there were 103 BTS which were fined for not controlling radiations, in 2013-14 it went down to 77. There were no penalties in 2014-15.
As of now, there are 9,08,353 Base Tower Stations in India. In 2013, violation of EMF radiations from each BTS was increased to Rs 10 lakh from Rs 5 lakh.
Brain Cancer From Mobile Tower Radiations?
As per Finnish scientist Dariusz Leszczynski, long term exposure to radiations from mobile towers can lead to brain cancer; as her his studies, 30 minutes exposure per day over a period of 10 years is sufficient to induce brain cancer in any human being.
Leszczynski, who is an adjunct professor of biochemistry at University of Helsinki and one of the members of the expert committee constituted by World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said last year, “The Interfone, Hardell and the recently concluded CERENAT studies in France have all pointed towards a common risk to increased brain cancer.”
However, a 13 member committee from Department of Telecom has concluded that emissions from mobile towers in India are not harmful.
In a report submitted at Allahabad High court, the committee said, “So far, no conclusive evidence has been found on adverse health effects by EMF radiation from mobile handset by the World Health Organisation (WHO)…(and) so long as EMF radiation power levels in the vicinity of base stations of cellphone towers are below the prescribed limits, there should not be any cause of concern for adverse thermal health affects on human beings living close them,”
The panel had recommended that more in-depth research is required in this aspect.
Educate Customers on Data Usage – TRAI
Meanwhile, in a separate news, TRAI has asked all telecom operators to educate and inform customer about data usage.
While notifying the Telecom Consumers Protection (Eighth Amendment) Regulations, 2015, TRAI mandated the following alert systems for all telco customers:
- Inform the customer after every 10MB of data is consumed
- Customers of pre-paid vouchers/add-ons or special packages should be informed on completion of 50%, 90% and 100% of the available data
- Additionally, when the data balance reaches 500 MB, 100 MB and 10 MB, they should be promptly alerted
- The customers should informed about the new data usage charges, once the data pack is over
- Data usage charges during International roaming should be clearly informed
- An option should be provided to deactivate the data services if they don’t intend to use them.
These suggestions are based on various complaints received from customers, who are often over-charged, simply because they were not aware about the charges.
This week, Airtel announced their profits have increased 40% due to increased data usage. In the past, we had reported how telcos are experiencing an all time surge in profits due to increased data usage from their customers.