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Hazardous radiation: PHC directs EPA to remove 20 cellular towers

By Akhtar Amin
January 24, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove 20 base transmission system towers and microwave antennas of mobile phone companies from residential areas, as hazardous radiations cause serious diseases and health problems.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Abdul Shakoor directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director general to issue notices to mobile companies for removal order of the 20 towers and complete the removal process within one month.

EPA Director General Dr Bashir Khan submitted the report filed on the court s direction. As per the report, currently, 366 mobile towers are installed in the city, out of which 20 towers are installed at less than 25 feet distance from the residential areas, which is against the international standard.

The EPA head stated that 20 mobile towers, in particular, were riskier in terms of causing chances of hazardous radiations and health problems.

He said that 55 towers were installed near mosques, 46 near schools and 195 near residential areas. The EPA head said a majority of the mobile towers were installed in the city before 2009 and at that time there was no need of getting No-Objection Certificate (NOC) for their installation. After 2009, he added, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa adopted a strict law for granting NOCs and now towers are being set up after fulfilment of legal and preventive measures for hazardous radiations under international standards. He said that mobile towers were installed near schools and mosques within less than 100 meters, and there is no fear of hazardous radiations from the mobile towers. The EPA chief said that the International Radiation Council had also published a research report and adopted certain standards for installation and prevention of the hazardous radiations effects.

Lawyers of mobile phone companies submitted that there were less or no residential areas when the companies were installing the towers. They requested the court that mobile towers should be given protection and not to be removed.

Justice Qaiser Rashid observed that the court would not compromise on human lives and the towers need to be removed from residential areas. The high court had already stayed installation of towers near schools, hospitals and populous areas across the province and directed the provincial government not to issue NOCs to them till the next order.