THE TELECOM sector in Pakistan has registered a steep growth with the rising number of cell phone users crossing the figure of 120 million, means one person one cell phone. And of course the mobile companies subsequently had to install as well as expand their network especially the installation of power-driven telecom towers to ensure wider coverage of their services across the country. Estimates reveal that about 40,000 telecom towers are installed in the country mostly in urban and congested areas. Since the electricity shortfall has become a critical issue for the last couple of years and solution to this issue is still a distant dream in the wake of multiple factors, majority of the towers have diesel-driven generators, as the second power source after the main power grid. As far as the human health and life risk are concerned, the exposure to electromagnetic fields is termed the potent factor of health hazards, but at the same time the refueling of generators with diesel especially in rooftop urban and congested buildings and plazas equally carries a high amount of risk. Most recently a main office in Islamabad of a mobile company – Warid Telecom – had caught fire – when a large quantity of diesel, during shifting to the buildings top floor, had fallen on the running electric motor at the ground floor and caught fire due to its sparking. Though luckily no loss of human life was occurred in the incident, yet such losses are not out of question in such situations. In most of the cases, the diesel is shifted from delivery hoses to oil tanks fitted with the generators through lose flexible pipes. This activity is absolutely not safe especially in congested areas where fire brigade vehicles have no approach or rescue operations are unable to be carried out in case of any eventuality. As a standard operating procedure, this diesel shifting must be carried out through fitted pipes so that the delivery of fuel is not exposed to the open air during the filling operation. At the same time, the relevant authorities are not exonerated from this whole faulty process. What they need to do right now is to keep a vigilant eye and monitor these operations and ensure that all safety measures are implemented properly by the all cell phone companies. The Punjab government a couple of years back had directed the mobile companies to shift their towers from grid power to solar power in the wake of environment hazards and energy shortage, however, this was hardly complied. Had the telecom companies opted for this, the issue of diesel shifting from delivery hose to generator tank has died in time.
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