"India's mobile emission safety norms are strict and radiation from telecom towers is not a cause for concern," Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said in a statement here.Responding to the health concerns expressed by BJP MLA Ram Lal Sharma from Rajasthan, arising from towers' radiation, the association said unwarranted concern over their side-effects may affect the government's Digital India programme.

"As fears of EMF (electro-magnetic fields) emission from towers in the people are misplaced, we have to collectively allay them (fears)," association director-general Rajan S. Mathews said in a letter to Sharma.Sharma claimed that in his Chomu assembly segment, 40 km from Jaipur, on March 24 that "people living within 100 metres of mobile towers were suffering from cancer".

Refuting the charge, Mathews said any unwarranted concern over installing telecom towers would impact the government's Digital India dream of the prime minister."The broadband proliferation will be driven by mobile technology which can be facilitated by adequate infrastructure, including mobile towers," Mathews noted.

In support of its safety claim, the association has cited reports of top medical and research bodies, including the WHO that found no adverse effects of mobile phone use on the health of humankind.

"Though India's EMF guidelines are based on the WHO-commissioned ICNIRP's (International Commission for Non Ionising Radiation Protection) norms, which are followed by many countries worldwide, we have reduced its (ICNIRP) limits to one-tenth in 2011, becoming one of the safest countries," the letter said.

The association also quoted union Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad telling lawmakers in the Rajya Sabha on March 13 that "for infrastructure, we need towers, and if we don't have permission to install towers, then infrastructure will not improve".

Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Shripad Naik has also told the upper house that fears of mobile towers being hazardous to health have no scientific basis. "The Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, clarified that there is no scientific evidence indicating using mobile phones will cause mental or physical disease," Naik has said.

 

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