Nepal quake relief: Mumbai ham radio group plays a role
As Nepal copes with the Himalayan tragedy, a Mumbai-based group of ham radio operators is quietly playing a crucial role in bridging the communication gap between the government aid agencies and the quake affected villages in remote areas.
As the 7.9 Richter trembler struck Nepal, Disaster Amateur Radio Emergency Services (DARES), a collective of volunteers who pursue the passion for ham radio communication, despatched a team with the radio equipment to Nepal.
Another team of the NGO was summoned by the Disaster Management Cell of the Maharashtra government to set up a ham radio emergency station at the Disaster Control Room at Mantralaya, the state secretariat, as soon the earthquake struck Nepal on April 26.
Remote locations and areas where all modes of communication have been affected by the disaster are now accessible to the government bodies thanks to the group.
Ankur Puranik, the Chief Commanding Officer (Engineering & Wireless) of DARES, told The Hindu, “Disasters and calamities cause mobile networks to collapse, and leave victims and governments stranded and unreachable. Ham radio technology is a century-old technology that has come to use every time this happens.”
DARES team in Nepal has been feeding information regarding relief and rescue requirements, medical needs, missing people and confirmed deaths through this network.
Mr. Puranik said, “We are all professionals of varied backgrounds, who use the network for past-time recreational purposes. During disasters, we unite to respond to the emergency and dedicate all our time to communicate with the victims.”
Mr. Puranik, an entrepreneur manufacturing solar powered devices, said that the DARES team has been using the solar-powered ham radio for the Nepal quake relief operations and without the burden of limited battery back-up, the operating teams have been able to provide a 24 hour communication system for the government. “10-15 cases of missing people have been resolved because of this advantage,” he said.
“We are likely to sign a MoU with the Disaster Management Cell of the Maharashtra government soon to permanently set up ham radio stations in 36 districts of Maharashtra,” Mr. Puranik said.
Over 400 tourists from Maharashtra stranded in Nepal have returned home safely in the last four days, official sources said.