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.
A graduate in mechanical engineering from Assam Engineering College, AK Hazarika joined ONGC as graduate trainee in 1976
The government of India has entrusted the additional charge of chairman & managing director, ONGC and director (Exploration), ONGC to AK Hazarika, director (Onshore), ONGC from 1 February 2011.
Mr Hazarika is a first class graduate in mechanical engineering from Assam Engineering College, Guwahati. He joined ONGC as graduate trainee in 1976. His first assignment was as driller (Cementing) in Assam. He remained in Assam upto 1989 at various important positions with increasing complex responsibilities.
Mr Hazarika rose to the position of executive director and chief-well services in January 2003. Mr Hazarika was selected by government of India to the position of Director (Onshore) in September 2004 at Delhi where he is presently looking after all the onshore operations of ONGC spread over the entire country.
The additional responsibilities of Mr Hazarika include director on board-in ONGC Videsh Ltd, ONGC Tripura Power Company and chairman of ONGC TERI Bio-tech. Ltd, director in-charge-material management, health, safety & environment and carbon management group.
The new step has been taken as a safeguard against credit card frauds. There has been an uptick in credit card frauds, where lost or stolen cards can be used by anyone
New Delhi: Credit card usage over the phone will need an additional security layer from tomorrow, as the Reserve bank of India (RBI) has made it mandatory for customers to get a single-use password from their banks for every such transaction, reports PTI.
Banks are required to comply with the new guidelines with effect from 1st February, after which the customers would be declined any telephonic transaction for their credit cards without an additional One-Time Password (OTP).
The RBI directive was earlier scheduled to come into effect from 1st January, but the deadline was extended by one month after some banks sought additional time to put the required changes in their systems in place.
After consultations among its top officials, as also with the bank representatives, RBI gave banks time till 1st February for putting the new security measure in place.
The OTP will now be required for all credit card transactions over phone, including payments and automated IVR (Interactive Voice Response) services.
The OTP will be valid for a single use and would remain in effect for a period of two hours. Customers would need to generate a separate OTP for each IVR transaction.
After the new security layer, the customers would need at least five sets of numbers to conduct a credit card transaction over phone-the 16-digit card number, card expiry date, CVV (Card Verification Value, which is printed on the back of the card) number, mobile number and the OTP.
The new step has been taken as a safeguard against credit card frauds. There has been an uptick in credit card frauds, where lost or stolen cards can be used by anyone.
For transactions where cards are needed to be presented physically, the RBI has already made it mandatory for an identity verification and the signature also needs to be matched with that on the card.
But phone and internet banking have been a matter of grey areas in terms of their misuse.
The added security layer for phone banking follows a similar step taken by the banks for internet banking transactions.
Last year, RBI had made it mandatory for banks to put in place an additional security layer for all credit card transactions over the internet.
Banks are already communicating to their customers to get the OTP for their phone banking transactions. The customers will be prompted to get the OTP whenever they initiate a phone banking transaction Tuesday onwards.
The password will be sent only to the registered mobile number and email address of the customer.