Govt will insist on solution to BlackBerry Enterprise Mail: Chidambaram

BlackBerry had been given time till 31st January to give a solution to the real time interception of its enterprise mail, but sources indicated that it could be extended by another fortnight or a month

New Delhi: The government today said it will "insist" that Canadian-manufacturer of Blackberry provides solution to intercept enterprise mail, the deadline for which ends today, reports PTI.

Noting that a decision would be taken soon on whether to allow BlackBerry Enterprise Mail or not, home minister P Chidambaram said he expected that Research-In-Motion (RIM), manufacturer of the smart phones, would be able to find some solution.

"I think a decision will be taken today by the ministry of home affairs and the telecom ministry. I am not yet been briefed on the development in the last few days.

"As I said, like they have given us a solution to the messenger service, we will insist that they give us the solution for the enterprise service too," Mr Chidambaram told reporters after presenting monthly report of his ministry.

BlackBerry had been given time till today to give a solution to the real time interception of its enterprise mail, but sources indicated that it could be extended by another fortnight or a month.

The comments from the minister came in the backdrop of BlackBerry makers saying that providing solution to access its enterprise mail service is "not possible" and asserting that the issue was not unique to them and has to be dealt at an industry level.

"There is no possibility of us providing any kind of a solution. There is no solution, there are no keys to be handed...It's not possible to do so because the keys of the service are in possession of the corporate enterprises," RIM vice-president (industry, government and university relations) Robert E Crow had said earlier.

Security agencies have been demanding access to all BlackBerry services as part of the efforts to fight militancy and security threats over the Internet and through telephone communications.

RIM encrypts emails as they travel between a BlackBerry device and its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES).

Earlier this month, RIM had said that it has delivered the technology to monitor contents on its messenger service (BBM) and had asked the government to issue a directive to the operators to connect to its new automated service.

This new service will automatically render lawfully intercepted BlackBerry Messenger messages in a format readable by Indian agencies.


Govt approves Rs8,000 crore subsidy to oil firms in Q3

While, petrol prices were freed from government control in June, state oil firms continue to sell diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene at government ruled prices, which is substantially lower than the cost of production

New Delhi: The government today approved Rs8,000 crore in cash subsidy to state-owned fuel retailers to make up for half of the revenues they lost on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below cost in the third quarter, reports PTI.

"Finance ministry has issued a letter approving Rs8,000 crore in cash compensation for the October-December quarter," an oil ministry official said.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the nation's largest fuel retailer, will get Rs4,442.45 crore, Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) Rs1,809.85 crore and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) Rs1,747.70 crore.

The three companies had last week postponed announcing their third quarter financial results in anticipation of the government subsidy announcement, without which they would have posted losses.

The official said IOC, BPCL and HPCL lost a shade less than Rs16,000 crore revenue on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below their imported cost.

Of this, upstream firms Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Oil India (OIL) and GAIL India made up Rs5,198 crore by way of discounts on crude oil and petroleum products they sell to the three retailers. ONGC chipped in Rs4,222 crore, OIL Rs558 crore and GAIL Rs418 crore.

The subsidy approved today is less than the Rs10,000 crore compensation that the oil ministry was seeking.

"For the first six months, the finance ministry had previously approved Rs13,000 crore and now with today's Rs 8,000 crore, the total subsidy from the government so far this fiscal is Rs21,000 crore," the official said.

IOC, which was expected to announce third quarter results on 25th January, has now scheduled its board meeting on 10th February.

Similarly, BPCL has postponed the 31st January board meeting for the third quarter results to 9th February while HPCL put off its 27th January meet to 11th February.

While, petrol prices were freed from government control in June, state oil firms continue to sell diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene at government ruled prices, which is substantially lower than the cost of production.

IOC, BPCL and HPCL currently lose Rs6.80 per litre on diesel, Rs18.66 per litre on kerosene and Rs366 per 14.2-kg LPG cylinder.


‘Industry does not want to spend on more cell towers that will lower radiation’

A recommendation has been made to DoT that radiation levels for cell towers should be brought down from the current 9.2 watts per metre square to less than 1 watt per metre square. Prof Girish Kumar believes it should be even lower

Professor Girish Kumar, of IIT Bombay, has been researching the harmful effects of electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) for some time now. He has also developed an instrument (a radiation shield) which absorbs radiation from cell phone towers, Wi-Fi, etc. Taking the industry's criticism of his research head-on, he says, "I have been consistently campaigning for lowering of phone radiation levels. Would I do that if I wanted to promote my business interests? I would rather not sell a single shield; but the citizens, especially our children, should be protected from radiation hazards." In an interview to Moneylife, Prof Kumar highlighted some health hazards from radiation emanating from cell towers and mobile phones. Excerpts from the interview.  
Moneylife (ML): There has been a debate on whether or not there is a direct link between cancer and radiation from cell towers. What does your research indicate?

Girish Kumar (GK): International studies have shown a direct link between cancer caused due to radiation emitting from cell towers and mobile phones; there are other health hazards as well. Many reports, including the Interphone study which spanned over 10 years, speak of 'possible health hazards', like tumour due to radiation, but say that there is 'no conclusive evidence' that there is a direct link. Many of these studies often state that "further study is required".

ML:  Why are further studies required?

GK: Much of the research depends on external funding-whether it is industry, pharma companies or the government. If they provide 'conclusive evidence', who will fund them next time?

ML: Is investment a major impediment for the government/ mobile operators to bring down radiation levels, given that mobile users are increasing day-by-day and more such towers are likely to be installed?

GK: Investment is the biggest hurdle for them. To reduce radiation hazards, the wattage per tower needs to be drastically reduced. Which means more towers will need to be erected to ensure quality of service, which means more investment. It is not that industry does not know the solutions. But it is in denial mode because it does not want to spend on the required infrastructure.

ML:  What could be the immediate corrective steps to address this sensitive subject?

GK: Bringing down radiation levels is the most important factor that can help address this issue. It should be as immediate as right now. An inter-ministerial committee has recommended to DoT that the norms for radiation level should be brought down by 1/10th-from the current 9.2 watts per metre square to less than 1 watt per metre square. In my view, the ideal level of radiation should be 0.0001 watt per metre square, which the industry finds too stringent immediately. But taking some steps is better than doing nothing.

ML: You have developed an instrument which absorbs radiation from cell towers, 3G, Wi-Fi, etc. Without using the instrument, is there anything citizens can do at their level, like placing plants on the window (directly facing the cell tower-in the path of the radiation), as suggested by a few experts? Is it of any help?

GK: Placing plants definitely would help in absorbing radiation, though it would be on a very small scale. Recently, some farmers in Gurgaon mentioned to me that production of lime from the lemon trees near Gurgaon highway constantly exposed to the radiation had fallen drastically-from 200 limes to two per tree even though the trees had survived. This means that trees have the capacity of absorbing radiation. Placing plants on the window will help in absorbing radiation, though it means that they could die.




6 years ago

Undoubtedly, the way forward is lower and lower power output, both for the tower and the handset. This delivers the twin benefits of extended battery life as well as lower radiation risks for the user, as well as for 'innocent' passersby affected by celltower radiation. It will take a dramatic change on the part of the industry, but why should industry do this (I mean, apart from common sense, which finds no value head in the balance sheet)?

It seems intrusive and retrograde, but is there any way out other than ensuring heavy penalties levied on 'radiation transgressors' (which carries with it the possibility of more corruption, rather than less)?

There could be something along the lines of Bhutan's national objective of 'happiness', possibly equated in rupee terms and therefore made palpable, thus guiding policy change in a more positive and less repressive atmosphere.

In the meantime, more stringent guidelines, made part of the license conditions, and more stringent monitoring (these are cellphone towers - remote monitoring is trivial, and should have been done already as a part of license conditions) are urgent needs.

s m palav

6 years ago

The theory of absorbing radiations/electromagnetic waves as a solution against radiation hazards is absolutely false, if the signals are being absorbed by some instrument or material then the mobile phones in its vicinity will lose network, which does not happens in case of the Radiation shield developed by Mr GK. Its simply an rectenna device which detects electromagnetic radiations by generating voltage from the emr waves incident on it. For details search for rectenna in google.

Narendra Doshi

6 years ago

Moneylife team & Mr. Alekh Angre
can propose to have independent cell towers - much like the electricity towers,at appropriate ground level instead of ON the building terraces or some other solutions. Cost SHOULD NOT be a criteria especially when the individual's health is concerned. Government MUST seize the research done & act rather than being a silent, non-participative spectator.
Mr. Kishor Thakker 's comment is also worth considering, seriously, by the legal fraternity.

Kishor Thakker

6 years ago

It is really surprising that No Legal-minded man-Advocates-Solicitors have filed Public Interest litigation,in spite of knowing Facts & Ill-effect of the Towers!!

I would like to put this Question to Senior Retired Advocate:-
What holds you Back ?
Jane Se Pahale
Desh ke liye
Bhi kuch karte jao..........

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