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HC orders against cellphone towers on home-school rooftops
A telecom tower in Mraik U township of Rakhine State, Myanmar - HRW

HC orders against cellphone towers on home-school rooftops

Dhaka, October 18 – The High Court in a full text of a verdict released Thursday directed the authorities concerned not to install any mobile phone tower on rooftops of residences, schools, colleges, playing fields, populated areas and heritage areas.The HC bench comprising Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir had on April 25 this given 11-point directives to protect public health and environment from mobile phone tower radiation. The full text of the verdict released yesterday after both the judges put their signature on the copy of the verdict.
In its verdict, the HC bench directed the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to submit a feasibility study report before it within four months, on the impact of radiation from mobile-phone towers on people and environment.
The HC bench also directed the authorities concerned to take steps to reduce the radiation of mobile phone towers by 1 per cent out of 10 per cent.
It also directed the authorities concerned to take steps so that mobile operators do not cross the specific radiation limit.
It asked the authorities concerned to inform the HC whether there is any restriction on acquisition of land for installing mobile phone towers.
The bench directed the BTRC to form a monitoring cell on public health risk caused by radiation from mobile phone towers. It also asked the authorities concerned to replace all mobile phone towers with high radiation.
The HC bench also directed the BTRC to make the verification mandatory for installing mobile phone towers.
It also directed the authorities concerned to take steps for writing the SAR on the mobile phone.
The HC bench said that it would give further directives in this regard after the report is submitted by the authorities concerned in line with its orders.
Advocate Manzill Murshid, president of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB), a human rights body, filed the writ petition seven years ago. It sought court directive to the government to stop radiation from mobile phone towers.
After releasing the HC verdict, Advocate Manzill Murshid said that the authorities concerned had to take necessary action to implement the High Court verdict.
He also said that the HC declared the case as mandamus for giving necessary orders, if needed in future for the greater interest of the country’s people and its environment.
The HRPB filed the petition as public-interest litigation before the HC on October 29, 2012, following a report broadcast by Ekushey Television on October 18 that year. The report said equipment in mobile-phone towers emits radiation that is harmful for the human body.
During a hearing on the petition, the health ministry submitted an expert committee report to the HC on March 22, 2017, saying radiation from a carrier’s cell tower was found to be above the limit set by a World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline.
According to WHO, excessive radiation from cell towers harms public health and damages the environment.
The experts’ committee recommended that the BTRC should take steps to reduce the excessive radiation from the base transceiver stations [mobile towers] set up by the six mobile phone operators across the country.
There are reportedly 35,000 telecom towers in Bangladesh and all of them are run by mobile phone operators.—Staff Reporter

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