National / World

Mobile Towers Impacting Biological Systems of Birds: Study


New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS): Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from mobile towers was interfering with the biological systems of birds, a study released by the environment ministry said Wednesday and called for a law for the protection of flora and fauna.

"The review of existing literature shows that the EMRs are interfering with the biological systems in more ways than one and there had already been some warning bells sounded in the case on bees and birds, which probably heralds the seriousness of this issue and indicates the vulnerability of other species as well," the study found.

The ministry in September 2010 had constituted a 10-member committee under Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) director Asad Rahmani to study the impact of mobile phone towers on birds and bees and formulating guidelines for their installations.

The expert group reviewed 919 studies done in India and abroad on the ill effects of mobile towers in animal, birds and insects. Of the 919 studies, the team found that 593 showed the negative impact of mobile towers on birds, bees, human, wildlife and plants.

Quoting from an international study that radio frequency pollution appears to constitute a potential cause for the decline of animal populations, it said there was urgent need to focus more scientific attention to this area before it would be too late.

The committee highlighted that studies from India on the impact of cell phone tower radiation on birds and wildlife are almost nonexistent.

Nearly 800 million Indians have mobile phones, making it the second largest mobile phone-subscriber population in the world after China.

"At present, there are nearly 15 companies providing mobile telephony. However, necessary regulatory policies and their implementation mechanism have not kept pace with the growth of mobile telephony," it said.

The expert group suggested introducing a law for the protection of urban flora and fauna from emerging threats of electromagnetic radiation.

"To prevent overlapping high radiations fields, new towers should not be permitted within a radius of one kilometre of existing towers. If new towers must be built, construct them to be above 80 feet and below 199 feet ... to avoid the requirement for aviation safety lighting," it said.

The groups also suggested displaying bold signs and messages on the dangers of cell phone tower and radiation which is emitted from it in and around the structures where the towers are erected.

"Strictly control installation of mobile towers near wildlife protected areas, important bird areas, turtle breeding areas, bee colonies and zoos up to a certain distance that should be studied before deciding and should also be practical," it said.

The group called for putting the locations of cell phone towers and other radiating towers along with their frequencies in public domain. "Public consultation to be made mandatory before installation of cell phones towers in any area," it added.

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