Making difficult decisions for the greater good
“The Department of Telecommunications created federal health and safety recommendations without impeding the rights of individual constituencies.”
In the last few decades, changing technologies have been a source of extraordinary socio-political advances across India while also creating new anxieties about culture and health and the preservation of both. These anxieties, and their relationship to the new needs of modern India, were crystalised in the issue of Mobile Tower Radiation, one of the most significant and challenging issues to cross Milind’s desk during his time as Minister of Telecommunications.
It’s no secret that the advent of mobile technology has brought India closer than it has ever been before while also creating a new economic powerhouse in telecom corporations, many of which are based in Milind’s own South Mumbai constituency.
Since Milind entered office in 2004, teledensity in India has risen from under 10% to more than 70%. This extraordinarily rapid change has brought with it fresh concerns about and heightened awareness of potential health risks associated with radiation from the mobile phones and radio towers proliferating across the country.
Reducing radio tower emissions to reduce health risks nation-wide
Last year, the Ministry of Telecommunications, with Milind’s oversight, faced the challenge of balancing the need for greater connectivity with the burgeoning fears of health risks associated with that growth. By implementing new electromagnetic field exposure limit norms, Milind reduced emissions to 1/10th of previous levels. More recently, the Department of Telecommunications, under Milind’s guidance, issued new advisory guidelines on clearance of new mobile towers for all of India’s state governments. By framing these as guidelines, Milind took the Department of Telecommunications’ balancing act a step further by creating federal health and safety recommendations without impeding the rights of individual constituencies to make locally informed decisions about their growth.