The Centre has slapped a fine of Rs 10.8 crore on telecom companies for violating mobile tower radiation rules, said the Union Telecom Ministry during a consultative committee meeting on Tuesday. Officials told PTI that the penalty was imposed on July 31 after the Department of Telecommunications found that as many as 205 out of 3.19 lakh base stations were flouting radiation norms.

The ministry officials also discussed the effects of mobile radiation at length during the meeting. While Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha cited studies by World Health Organisation to argue that mobile radiation has no adverse effect on human health, other MPs questioned such studies and alleged that those were sponsored by telecom companies.

Although Sinha said radiation rules in India were 90% stricter than in other countries, MP Rabindra Kumar Jena argued that mobile towers in India emit eight times higher radiation. He cited studies by an European and a Swedish institute that claimed that using mobile phones for 30 minutes daily for 10 years can cause brain tumour and spinal disorders.

Another MP, Arvind Ganpat Sawant, accused DoT officials of being partners in crime with private telecom operators and ignoring radiation rules. A government official told PTI, "Sawant said that BSNL and MTNL, which follow the norms strictly, have towers installed at same place where private operators have theirs. However signal of these private sector undertakings come till the gate of the house while that of the private operators reach even inside the bathroom."

Sinha assured both Jena and Sawant of action against offenders. He added that he will look into the concerns raised by the MPs and warned officials against joining hands with private telecom operators.