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PHC seeks report on phone towers near schools, hospitals

Updated November 15, 2018

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The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Environmental Protection Agency to submit a detailed report on how many mobile phone base transceiver stations (BTS) had been set up near educational institutions, health facilities and residential areas in the provincial capital. — PPI/File photo
The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Environmental Protection Agency to submit a detailed report on how many mobile phone base transceiver stations (BTS) had been set up near educational institutions, health facilities and residential areas in the provincial capital. — PPI/File photo

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Environmental Protection Agency to submit a detailed report on how many mobile phone base transceiver stations (BTS) had been set up near educational institutions, health facilities and residential areas in the provincial capital.

The PHC bench of Justice Qaiser Rasheed Khan and Justice Abdul Shakoor Khan ordered the EPA’s director general, Dr Mohammad Bashir, to also inform the court in the report about the adverse effects of the said BTS on human health.

The court ordered him to look into the effectiveness of radiation proof devices, which some of the mobile phone companies claimed could control the adverse effects of radiations from BTS.

Orders EPA to give details of adverse effects of base transceiver stations on human health

The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by a citizen Mohammad Naeem who has claimed that setting up of BTS has adverse effects on the human health.

The petitioner has requested the court to issue directions to different respondents, including Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), KP government through secretary environment and heads of different mobile phone companies, to avoid installation of BTS and microwave antennas in sensitive areas situated around schools, hospitals, parks and crowded residential areas.

He has also requested the court to issue direction to the relevant respondents to protect the general public from the hazards of environmental pollution due to these BTS by implementing the zoning laws made for environmental protection. He sought direction from the court to the respondent to implement international conventions and policies for the protection of environment from the radiations emitted from BTS and microwave antennas.

A bench headed by Justice Qaiser Rasheed had on Oct 18 prohibited setting up of mobile phone BTS near educational institutions, health facilities, residential areas and parks till final disposal of the writ petition.

Several counsels appeared for some of the mobile phone companies and requested the bench to recall the said stay order as it had been inflicting losses on the companies. They stated that the companies were ready to give any sort of assurance that the BTS had not been posing health hazards.

The bench turned down their request observing that they would first receive the report from EPA so as to ascertain the health hazards posed by these phone towers. It fixed Nov 27 for next hearing of the petition.

Senior advocate Noor Alam Khan appeared for the petitioner and stated that the BTS, commonly called as mobile phone towers, were installed on rooftops of plazas and at other places across the province, especially in Peshawar. He claimed that these towers were posing health hazards as these emitted microwaves at frequency of 1,900 MHz (megahertz), which affected every biological organism within one square kilometre.

The counsel claimed that different researches on the subject showed that there might be several health hazards of microwaves emanating from BTS, including headache, cardiovascular stress, memory loss, miscarriages, cancer, low sperm count, disturbance of the nervous system, etc.

He said that while the cellular phone industry had been claiming that BTS had no effect on the environment, in fact it had started acting like the cigarette industry which despite knowing the adverse impact of smoking on health had been involved in drastic marketing practices.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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