The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has requested the information technology ministry to remove all social media messages which link the spread of Covid-19 to 5G technology.
COAI consists various telecommunication firms including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. While none of these firms have any 5G towers in India, the telecom body has claimed that messages linking virus spread to 5G are “baseless” and it has urged the Centre to ask social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to remove such posts.
The development comes in the backdrop of numerous messages being circulated on social media which claim that 5G towers can cause a rise in coronavirus fatalities.
Telecommunication firms are yet to begin 5G testing in India.
In a letter dated May 15 to MeitY Additional Secretary Rajendra Kumar, COAI Director General S P Kochhar said: "To safeguard the national interest, we request your good office to kindly instruct all the social media platforms such as Facebook, Watsapp, Twitter, etc, to remove all such posts and misleading campaigns from their platforms on an urgent basis."
Video messages shared on social media show that people who are convinced about the authenticity of these messages wish to destroy telecom towers in India.
"We would hereby like to highlight that these types of rumours have spread over the past two weeks, mainly in semi-urban and rural areas.
"There has been a rise in such misinformation mainly in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab. We are concerned that this misleading and false claim / information might spread to other parts of the country as well," Kochhar said.
The Department of Telecommunications has also denied the claim of linking the Covid-19 pandemic to the 5G technology as false, and said it has no scientific basis.
"Moreover, it is informed that the testing of the 5G network has not yet started anywhere in India. Hence, the claim that 5G trials or networks are causing coronavirus in India is baseless and false," the DoT had said.
International bodies like the World Health Organization and International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection have also rejected claims of 5G having any ill effect on the health of people.
COAI said spreading myth around telecom services is against the national interest and may significantly impact the telecom operations.
The impact on the connectivity will deprive the public or government authorities from getting uninterrupted telecom services at this crucial juncture when telecom and internet is essential for enabling work from home and various initiatives of the government including the vaccination, it said.
(With PTI inputs)
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