Department of Telecommunications (DoT), West Bengal License Service Area (WB LSA) organised an awareness webinar on electromagnetic fields (EMF) emissions and telecom towers. This session was organised as part of DoT’s public advocacy program to make the general public aware of the need for mobile towers and dispel myths regarding the health effects of EMF exposure from mobile towers.

The workshop was attended by more than 100 participants including government officials, the general public, residents’ welfare associations, students, doctors, telecom service providers, infrastructure providers and other officials. The eminent key at the event were R.K. Sharma, senior deputy director general, DoT WB LSA; Pabitra Sarkar, deputy director general, Compliance, DoT WB LSA; and S.K. Deka, director, Compliance, DoT WB LSA as well as Dr Vivek Tandon, associate professor, AIIMS, New Delhi.

Speaking at the webinar, R.K. Sharma said, “India has the second-largest mobile network base of active subscribers. By the end of 2025, 5G will account for over a fifth of total mobile connections, and more than two in five people globally will live within reach of a 5G network. With an increase in the pace of 5G deployment, it becomes pertinent to install a robust of telecom infrastructure including mobile towers, small cell, fibre etc. Telecom towers are the backbone of Indian mobile communications. Therefore, it becomes extremely essential to address the spread of misinformation and provide an authentic view of health concerns related to mobile towers. It is also important to be informed that no scientific or medical evidence is available to corroborate the argument used against mobile towers.”

Meanwhile, S.K. Deka said, “The Government of India follows norms that are 10 times stricter than what has been prescribed by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and recommended by World Health Organization (WHO). DoT continuously monitors the EMF emission levels form towers across India and ensures compliance with emission norms across the country through its field. All telecom service providers are required to ensure the radiation from mobile towers/base transceiver stations (BTSs) is within prescribed safe limits. LSA also conducts physical audits of sites by selecting them randomly and testing the power of the available EMF signals at different probable locations near the site. West Bengal LSA tested 1738 BTSs from April 2022 to September 2022. All BTSs have been found compliant as per DoT norms. There is a need to bust the myth around the health effects from EMF radiation exposure from diverse sources especially mobile BTS antennae and mobile phones. Therefore, one must rely on the scientific data that EMF radiations from mobile towers are safe.”

Further, Dr Vivek Tandon, said, “The EMF radiations is low non-ionising radio frequency/electromagnetic energy emitted from mobile tower antenna of 2G/3G/4G/5G technology and mobile handset. According to scientific research on the health impacts of radiation from mobile towers, it has been found that low-powered, non-ionising radiation emitted from cell towers has no ill effects on human health, whatsoever. Misconceptions among a section of the state population around the health hazards of EMF radiations should not override the factual information made available to us through scientific research. Telecom towers are critical installations for the realisation of the vision of inclusive growth. Hence, people need to be assured that any fear around mobile towers lacks any foundation.”

Citizens must understand that India needs telecom infrastructure for the deployment of 5G and building a reliable network of telecom infrastructure on a robust network of mobile towers will provide mobile connectivity to the farfetched regions of the country. It will help in bridging the digital divide. By the end of 2027. 5G will represent around 39 per cent of mobile subscriptions in India, with an estimated 500 million subscriptions. Therefore, more towers are required for the realisation of the vision of Gati Shakti and Digital India’s vision of the government of India.  It is important to address that the fear surrounding the theories about EMF radiations is uncorroborated. EMF radiations from mobile towers are strictly monitored and assessed on a regular basis. Evidence from credible and extensive research has ruled out any possibility of health issues originating from EMF radiations. Moreover, eight high courts of India have also upheld the same view and have delivered judgments that aim to disprove all such unfounded fears and misguided activism that is posing a severe challenge to the overall growth and connectivity of the country.

DoT is fully committed and equipped to facilitate compliance with guidelines designed to safeguard beloved citizens from any risk of EMF exposure. People must be informed that proper regulatory frameworks are in place to monitor EMF emission levels and assured that mobile towers do not pose any threat to their health.