High Court orders BTRC to report on mobile phone tower radiation

The High Court has ordered the telecom watchdog to submit a report in four months after measuring the level of radiation emitted by mobile phone towers and examining its effect on environment and health.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 25 April 2019, 05:39 PM
Updated : 25 April 2019, 05:39 PM

The bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Selim issued the order after hearing a writ petition seeking its order on the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission or BTRC to stop radiation from the mobile phone towers.

The court also asked the regulator to measure the level of radiation (specific abstraction rate or SAR standard) absorbed by human body while using mobile phone.

Lawyers Manzill Murshid, Ripon Barowi and Sanjay Mandal argued for the petitioners at the hearing. Lawyer Khandaker Reza-e-Rakib represented the BTRC, and Deputy Attorney General Qazi Zainat Haque the state.

The court ordered the BTRC to submit a compliance report in the next four months by conducting a feasibility study on 11-point directive, according to Murshid.

THE 11-POINT DIRECTIVE

1. The radiation level of the mobile phone tower must be reduced to 1 percent from the permissible level of 10 percent;

2. Remove the mobile phone towers installed on the rooftop of homes, schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, jails , playgrounds, populated areas, heritage and archaeological sites and no more installations on those places;

3. Take security measures to control higher level of radiations;

4. Check whether there is any obstacle in acquiring land or take alternate measures in order to installation of towers;

5. Follow the radiation levels in line with the BTRC, International Telecommunication Union or ITU and International Electrotechnical Commission or IEC standards;

6. Replace over-radiated towers with new ones;

7. Hold the BTRC accountable for tower verification and monitoring tests;

8. Form a BTRC monitoring cell to control health risks;

9. The BTRC will form an alternative dispute resolution committee and will ask the licence holders to submit progress report every 6 months;

10. Specific absorption rate or SAR value should be showed on mobile set so that it can be visible;

11. Monitor every report and record submitted by the licence holders concerned up to five years.

The radiation standard set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection or ICNIRP is 4.5-watt per square kilometer. But it is below in Bangladesh, according to a BTRC report.

Disagreeing with the BTRC report, lawyer Murshid sought a directive from the court to bring it down to 0.45 level. Backing the argument, he said the countries that have set the level are dominated by the winter and less settlements. But Bangladesh is warm and densely populated.

Highlighting a verdict of the Supreme Court of India, he said that after the verdict, India set its standards in its own context.

After a High Court order in response to a writ petition filed by the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh in 2012, the health ministry constituted an expert panel.

The panel inspected radiations of 18 towers of six mobile phone operators in Motijheel, Gulshan, and Mirpur areas in Dhaka and submitted a report with three-point recommendation to the ministry in 2013.

They found excessive radiation in only one of those towers, according to the report.

The BTRC had formulated a policy in line with the court's orders.

Later, it amended the policy several times and submitted it to the court.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher