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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
India state bans mobiles in class
Boy using a mobile phone
Cell phones are hugely popular with Indian children
The government in the Indian state of Karnataka is to ban children under 16 from using mobile phones in classrooms.

Under the new rules, companies and shops will be penalised for selling mobile phones to children, said state education minister Basavaraj Horatti.

The government says the phones are a nuisance and that the move is based on medical advice that they harm the physical and mental growth of children.

The cell phone industry says there is no evidence to prove the health risks.


Mr Horatti, who is minister for primary and secondary education in the southern state, said under-16s would be banned from using cell phones in all educational institutions.

Mobile phones are a nuisance on the premises of educational institutions
Basavaraj Horatti,
State education minister

He was speaking to reporters in the Karnataka capital, Bangalore, alongside state Health Minister R Ashok who said new regulations would soon be issued after legal advice.

The ministers said the use of cell phones by schoolchildren under 16 was harmful to their health and a nuisance in classrooms.

Mr Horatti said that if a student was found talking on a cell phone in the classroom, the phone would be confiscated.

"Mobile phones are a nuisance on the premises of educational institutions. Teachers are complaining that students played with their phones, listened to music and received calls in classrooms," he said.


The cell phone industry says there is no evidence to prove the health risk involved.

''We have also got studies done and all of them say that there are no health hazards. Powerful organisations like the World Health Organisation, health councils etc say there is no evidence whatsoever,'' director general of Cellular Operators' Association of India, TV Ramchandran, told private television channel NDTV.

India has the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world, with more than 170 million subscribers.

Every month around seven million new subscribers are added to the list and a large number of them are children.

Mobile phones are hugely popular with children across Indian cities.

Correspondents say it has become the norm in big cities like Delhi for better-off children to carry the latest big brand cell phones to school.

A few months ago, Delhi's Shri Ram school sent out a circular to parents advising them not to let their children carry cell phones to school or they would be confiscated.

But many children find ways of carrying their phones to school and use them during breaks or in the toilets to send text messages or make calls.


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