BHUBANESWAR: Packed with wind gusting upto 200 km per hour, cyclone Fani tore through everything on its path except the daunting spirit of a Community Radio Jockey near Konark. Unmoved by the raging storm and braving all risks, the woman jockey Rojalin Pradhan sat all through the cyclone in the station and kept broadcasting information on Fani to her listeners.
Even as the cyclonic wind was banging the walls of the radio station at Ichhapur village under Gop limits in Puri district on May 3, she was committed to the cause of keeping the community safe. The day before Fani made landfall near Chilika, Rojalin had to work in night shift. Next morning, she couldn’t leave the station of Community Radio Namaskar, close to her house. The other junior staff of the radio weren’t able to come to work. Cyclone Fani had battered their houses by 9 am.
“She informed me that she was all alone. But, she refused to discontinue the service. She felt dissemination of information during the disaster was important,” said founder of the community radio, NA Shah Ansari.
Until 9.30 am on May 3, Rojalin was informing the villagers about the updates received from the website of India Meteorological Department (IMD). Till then, the internet services were not affected. However, soon after the connectivity was lost.
She had no access to information. But, common sense was put to use. She stretched her show, catering to people of at least 100 villages, by informing them on how to stay safe during the cyclone. Keeping the predictions about the landfall in mind, she informed about the relatively safer cyclone shelters. Not just that, she was also receiving calls from her listeners who wanted to know the cyclone shelters until the phone lines were snapped.
“She ensured that people who are living in vulnerable villages are informed about the fact. She urged them to evacuate the village and shift to cyclone shelters of other villages,” added Ansari.
After 11.30 am, the antenna of the radio station broke down. “I observed the red signal on my system, which indicated that there was no output. Thereafter, I waited inside the radio centre as wind tore through the area,” she said.
Rojalin also runs a woman self-help group in her village. From being a listener of the radio herself to one of the station-in-charges, she has come a long way.