Telecommunication Current Affairs - 2019
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As per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), there are no conclusive data available on the issue of Health Hazards due to radiation emitted from cell phone and cell phone tower.
Some scientific evidences indicate some bio-effects and potential adverse health effects of Radio Frequency Radiation (RFR). As per ICMR, WHO/International Agency for research on Cancer has categorized radio frequency electromagnetic field as possible carcinogenic agent to humans. ICMR has initiated a multi-disciplinary cohort study in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) to investigate adverse effects of Radio Frequency Radiation (RFR), if any, emitted from cell phone on adult Indian population.
The study intends to examine whether use of cell phone is linked with reproductive dysfunctions, infertility, neurological disorders (cognitive behaviour, sleep related disorders, depression etc.), cardiovascular disorders, Otorhinolaryngology (ENT) disorders and promote cancer, if any in human volunteers.
Key Findings reported by some studies:
- Cytogenetic damage in tissues of some individuals using cell phone over a period of time.
- Study conducted animals indicated considerable reduction in testicular size, weight and in sperm counts after chronic exposure to Radio Frequency Radiation (RFR) imitated from cell phone which may lead to infertility.
- Headache, dizziness, numbness in the thigh, and heaviness in the chest among mobile phone.
- Long term and intensive mobile phone use may cause inner ear damage.
- Increase in peak heart rate, serum total cholesterol, VLDL cholesterol and triglycerides concentration in acute RFR.
- Microwave radiation caused an increase in erythrocyte and leukocyte counts, a significant DNA strand break in brain cells and the loss of spatial memory in mice.
- Microwave exposure adversely affects male fertility.
- Reduction in melatonin or an increase in caspase-3, creatine kinase, and calcium ion may cause significant damage in rat brain due to chronic exposure of microwave radiations. These biomarkers indicate possible health implications of such exposures.
- Prolonged exposure to non-ionizing Microwave radiation may lead to infertility.
- Study conducted on animal concluded that 3G mobile phone radiations affect the brain function and cause several neurological disorders. It also indicated testicular impairment in male Westar rats due to long-term exposure of Microwave.
Measure taken in India:
- India has adopted Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) radiation limits prescribed by International Commission on non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
- In addition to this, Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has prescribed stricter precautionary limits for EMF radiation from mobile tower which is 1/10th of the limits suggested internationally by ICNIRP.
- With a view to ensure adherence to the prescribed EMF radiation limits from mobile tower in India, self-certificates are required to be submitted by telecom service providers as per the guidelines issued by DoT.
- To inspect this, regular audit of Base Transceiver Station (BTS) sites is conducted by Telecom Enforcement Resource & Monitoring (TERM) field units.
- If any BTS site is found to infringing the prescribed EMF norms, actions are taken by imposing a penalty of Rs.10 lakh per BTS per incidence.
The Supreme Court bench of Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Vikramjit Sen ruled that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in his capacity can inspect the accounts of private telecom companies. The court held that such an inspection was essential in order to make certain that the government, which has granted the private companies licenses of the precious natural resources, was getting in return its genuine share as per the revenue sharing agreement between the private company and Government.
The Supreme Court while upholding the preceding decision by the High Court, that granted a right of statutory audit to the CAG however, made certain changes to it.
The Supreme Court bench made clear in its decision that this capacity to do a revenue audit by CAG will not be a statutory audit or a special audit but will be restricted to investigating the statements of account in order to make certain that there was no loss to public exchequer in the process. Thus, an audit by CAG should only relate to revenues and not into aspects such as “wisdom and economy in expenditures”.
2009: TRAI found that a few telecom operators were purportedly under-reporting income to evade paying revenue share to the Government. Department of Telecommunication (DoT) hired CAG-empanelled auditors investigate the revenue books of Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone India Ltd, Idea Cellular Ltd and Reliance Communications Ltd for the years 2006-07 and 2007-08.
2012: DoT then issued notices to recover almost Rs 1,600 crore in unpaid dues from the telecoms after it was found by CAG that they had purportedly under-reported revenues.
The telecom operators then filed petitions with the Delhi High Court, seeking a stay on the CAG’s decision.
January 2014: Delhi High Court gave a green signal for CAG audit of the private firms’ accounts. The Delhi High Court held that it was the responsibility of the CAG to audit telecom companies as a part of their revenue goes to the CFI (Consolidated Fund of India).
The Delhi High Court held that as per the terms of agreements between Govt and pvt telecom firms, the accounting responsibility on behalf of the Centre was undertaken by these firms. So, the revenue receipts for these accounts could be termed as the accounts of the central government and for this reason, these accounts can be a subject matter of CAG’s audit.
February 2014: The telecom companies’ associations, together with the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUTSP) and the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) appealed in the Supreme Court, challenging the January 6, 2014 verdict of the Delhi High Court.
April 2014: Supreme Court upheld the decision of Delhi High Court with a few changes.