ISLAMABAD, April 2: The government on Monday decided to relocate and redesign more than 300 of the 10,000 telecommunication towers atop buildings in residential areas where they are considered to be a health hazard.

This was announced at a press conference held here in which the Ministry of Information Technology issued a policy to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for establishing guidelines for mitigating environmental and health-related effects of cellular-based station antennae and to address public concerns about radiation hazards of the infrastructure.

Minister IT Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari announced issuance of the policy.

He said that a detailed study had been conducted by the IT Ministry to look into the seriousness of the matter, and added that radiation hazards from the base stations were thoroughly analyzed in the light of the recommendations of ANSI/IEEE and the International Council for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

The report was also circulated to the Ministries of Health and Environment, PTA and industry stakeholders for their comments.

The study had concluded that a bulk of medical research material was available on health-related effects of electromagnetic radiation emitted from antennae on telecommunication towers. Yet no conclusive evidence of hazards to human health had been established for possible exposure levels from the cellular towers, he stated.

Nonetheless, the minister did not rule out the possibility of negative impacts to human health of installing telecommunication towers in residential areas which could lead to serious diseases like cancer or leukemia.

Director Wireless MoIT Mudassar Hussain said: "Only if a human being comes directly in front of an antenna-radiating surface (not the tower) within eight meters (25 feet) can there be a possibility of exposure to radiation levels detrimental to human health."

He said: "Random research indicates probability of some negative effects on humans in front of the antenna."

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