HYDERABAD: Who would have thought that the amateur radio, the not-so popular hobby, would be one of the most effective medium of communication in times of major disasters?
S Ram Mohan, executive vice-chairman and director of the National Institute of Amateur Radio, here says that HAM radios can pass the information at a faster pace than all other means of communication. “It hardly takes 10 minutes to set up the equipment. Also, unlike the normal radio, it has a two-way communication. Hence, during the time of disasters, it becomes easy for effective management of resources like distribution of food packets in the affected areas,” he said.
HAM network is a simple mode of communication that can be used either by security officers to communicate among themselves or by any person to call their landlines or mobiles.
A team of Ham Radio operators from across the country are gearing up to visit the flood-affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Titled ‘Mission Kashmir,’ the operators are preparing for their journey to Srinagar for setting up a stable communication network there. However, Ram Mohan is quite skeptical about it. ‘’Basically, the operation of Amateur Radio is banned in certain areas like Jammu and Kashmir, North East etc. Hence, we cannot jump into any action without seeking the permission from Wireless Planning Commission and Co-ordination Wing,” he said. “Hence, I will write to the wireless advisor asking him to grant us permission to visit the place to avoid any legal complications. If everything works out, we will be starting in two days as we have all the equipment in place,” he said.
Apparently, this is not the first time that the HAM radio operators came forward to do the needful. ‘‘Last year during the Uttarakhand floods, we were there in less than 24 hours. Similarly, when a massive earthquake hit Gujarat in 2001, we were operating right from the collector’s office in Bhuj, which was the station camp. When Tsunami hit in 2004, we were in Port Blair on an expedition and within a span of one and a half hour, we changed the expeditation station to an emergency station to receive and send the information through HAM radio,’’ he said.