When all forms of communication collapsed in less than half an hour after a major cyclone hit Nisarga in the Raygad district last Wednesday, a group of nine independent radio operators using wireless communication became the eyes and ears of the district government. Their centers? Homeless station in Srivardana, district headquarters in Alibaga and cars in Mahabaleshwar.
Throughout the exercise, from the afternoon of the 2nd to the 5th day of the week. In the evening of June (when mobile communications were resumed in some areas) in the lowlands of Srivardan, Mkhasala, Dighi, Murud, Revdanda, Nagaon, Revas and Alibag in Raigad, information was constantly being passed on about the dead, injured and evacuated, the extent of the damage (loss of trees, falling electricity cables and network masts), the need for assistance and rescue, from the police, local authorities and citizens to the broadcasters and back to the authorities in the various parts of the country.
Amateur radio or amateur radio.
Amateur or 130-year-old amateur radio stations are normally used to set up an emergency communications network in the event of a natural disaster. This technology was developed in Italy in the early 1890s and was first widely used before and during the First World War (1914-1918).
In anticipation of the breakdown of communication lines due to a cyclone, Raygad’s calamity management took part in a workshop on 1 January 2009. Contact in June with Nitin Ainapure, a radio amateur who has been working for 30 years. When we were warned of the impending hurricane, our biggest concern was the loss of all network connections. In response, Radio Ham came in. We asked the radio amateurs, and they were more than willing to activate their network of volunteers. Their kits are installed in my office and in all coastal vessels. When Nisarga met Raigad, the telecommunications network in Srivardan, Murud, Mhasla and Tala was cut off. Ham Radio volunteers played a key role in ensuring a steady flow of information from the affected material, said Nidhi Chaudhari, a Raygada collector and district judge.
Ainapur, based in Kolhapur, was commissioned to set up a team to maintain the radio systems before and after the storm. Ainapur was part of the communication network during the floods of Kolhapur Sangli last year, the floods of Mumbai in 2005 and during Cyclone Fian in November 2009.
Although Cyclone Fian was more intense, he moved further across the sea before reaching Gujarat. But it didn’t bring as much devastation as Nisarga, Ainapura said.
Until the second. By June, groups had already been formed and tests had started. The first team in Srivardana consisted of Amola Deshpande, Sunila Unde, Yogesh Sadare and Chandu Chavana, the second from Wilson Point to Mahabaleshwar led by Ainapur and Bhau Chaugule and the third from Alibaga as a seat under the visually impaired radio operator Dilip Bapat, Amit Gurav and Mandar Gupte. Although Bapat has only 10% vision since 2015, his hearing is the best of all. It can mute codes and messages and deliver them immediately to the appropriate authorities, Mr. Shoghule said.
On the third. In June (the day of the landing) Alibaga’s team used a wireless police radio system, while other teams used antennas at an altitude of 10 metres on a hill in Mahabaleshwar and a building in Shrivardana to ensure smooth signal transmission. The Mahabaleshwar and Shrivardana teams charged their systems via the engines of the vehicles because there was no electricity. When the cyclone hit the ground, one of Mahabaleshwar’s antennas collapsed and Raygad’s signal was interrupted. A similar incident occurred in Shrivardana, Ainapurn said, adding that both groups had secured the antennas during the storm. Anything could have happened. We were lucky to survive, Deshpande said, adding that the homeless Shirvard Khan station was badly damaged and that the building partly collapsed because of the cyclone.
Sagar Pathak, Commissioner for Disaster Relief, said Raygad: Thanks to the information provided to us, we were able to send the National Disaster Response Force to the right places, ensure immediate recovery and guarantee the resumption of the main roads. Because there was an eclipse in the communication after the cyclone, we were able to make a preliminary estimate of the damage on the basis of this information.
Experts’ opinions on this technology differ. Ham is not necessarily the only way to communicate in case of disaster. Satellite phones, very high and ultra high frequency networks – all available modes. Amateur radio stations are the last resort when everything else fails, said Mahesh Narvekar, head of disaster management at Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Г. Padmanaban, a former relief analyst for the United Nations Development Programme, said the use of amateur radio is standard procedure in any disaster. It is a reliable system that cannot easily be deactivated or dismantled in the event of a natural disaster. Where phones and other satellite devices have their limitations, they remain a reliable and efficient means of communication widely used in Odisha, Kerala and Maharashtra.
HOW THE TEAM WORKS
Each team member is identified with a unique code. For example, Ainapure is VU2CAN and Deshpande is VU2YZO. This helps us to identify and locate each other more quickly. At the same time, instead of long words that may or may not be understood, we use codes to ensure that the message gets through. When we say QSL, it means you heard me, and when we receive a QSL reply, it means the message has been received. QTH means where you live. This reduces the downtime of the disposable battery, says Ainapura. Deshpande said the three-hour landing over Shrivardan near Murud was the golden age when only the amateur radio network worked and nothing else. The cyclone first moved Shrivardhan, separated from the sea, then returned to the sea and finally landed on Divagar. Meanwhile, our antenna withstood a strong wind of 120 km/h when we took shelter in our cars, he said.