Installation of mobile towers in JK: MOE&F guidelines ignored

Srinagar: Guidelines  issued by Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOE&F), Government of India (GoI), regarding installation of mobile towers to protect humans and birds from threats of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) and other harmful radiation seem  not to have been followed in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to annual report of Committee on Environment, State Legislative Assembly of 2014, the State Environment Department and State Pollution Control Board  had to stick to the guidelines of MOE&F, in giving clearance to mobile companies issued by Department of Telecommunication(DOT) for installation of mobile towers  in the state.
“The committee enquired from the concerned department whether they have conducted any survey to ascertain how far the advisory was being implemented on ground. However, the committee expressed its displeasure for the unsatisfactory reply given by the departmental representative,” said the committee report.
The MOE&F, in 2012, issued guidelines to all the state governments regarding the installation of mobile towers which were framed by an expert group headed by Bombay Natural History Society Director Dr Asad Rahmani.
The expert group had said that the as per the existing literature the EMRs from mobile towers are interfering with the biological system in more ways than one which have harmful impact on humans, embryology of  birds and colony collapse of bees.
The specific recommendations for action, given by the expert group, included prevention of overlapping of high radiation fields by not allowing new towers within a radius of one km, build them 80 feet above ground and not more than 199 feet tall.
The Environment Committee report said that in its telecom policy, the state government has not taken into account the environment concerns in the state.
“There is no doubt regarding the fact that the telecom sector played vital role in the economic development of the state and altered pattern of communication, but at the same time Environment concerns were to be taken care strictly before installation of such mobile towers in the residential areas,” said the report.
The committee report stresses the Department of Environment urgent need of scientific studies regarding the subject on the ground as radiation pollution appears to constitute a potential cause for the decline of animal populations and deterioration of health of plants and humans living near radiation sources.
“The environment department should study the impact of mobile towers and access the ground situation in the state and prepare document envisaging the measures being taken by it to identify the areas of concern and to safeguard the life of mankind and also the birds from the harmful radiations,” the report said.
The committee report also suggested the minimising the erection of towers and sharing of a single tower by more than two mobile companies to reduce the effect of EMR.