DEHRADUN: Disaster of the year 2013 in Uttarakhand termed as 'Himalayan Tsunami' brought many changes in the ambit of policymaking, disaster management, climate change and building science in Uttarakhand.
One of the silent changes were cropping up of community radio stations. Radio stations like Radio Hevalvani in Tehri, Mandakini ki Awaz in Bhanaj village in Rudraprayag district, Kumaon Vani in Mukteshwar, Nainital district, Pantnagar Janvani in Pantnagar, Udham Singh Nagar district, Radio Khushee in Mussoorie, Radio Zindagee in Dehradun and a number of others operat in Kumaoni, Garhwali, other regional languages and Hindi.
These community radio stations are picking up local issues, producing content on how unplanned development in adversely affecting the flora, fauna, weather pattern and lifestyle of hills.
N Ramakrishnan, director of the Ideosync Media Combine, the organization which trained staff of these community radio stations said, "Our aim is to train people and inculcate awareness about climate change and its impact in natural disasters like 2013. Afterward content and programs created by the community radios of Uttarakhand have touched lives and impacted the people as well as the system."
These radio stations in collaboration with various state and national agencies started producing programs based on the effects of climate change, disaster management, and related issues.
Piyoosh Rautela, executive director of disaster mitigation and management center said, "Uttarakhand is the first state to frame community radio policy. Under the policy, we help financially and otherwise to help to establish infrastructure and creation of content related to prevention and mitigation of natural disasters."
Challenges always pose a threat to the existence and survivability of these radios given tough terrain, absence of reliable revenue models, lack of workers but they refuse to give up.
Rajinder Singh Negi from Radio Hevalvani said, "We face a lot of issues but our staff and people refuse to give up. We will continue to work and create program snt safeguard our environment, hills, and flora-fauna."
It all started in the year 2001 when a group of young rural youth came together. The name of the station, Hevalvani cam from Heval river flowing in Chamba of Tehri. The volunteers of the radio station used to reach out to villages and people on foot mostly urging them to listen and participate.
Finally, they got the license in the year 2012 and the station covers over 700 villages in five districts of the hill state.
Most of the people, staff, and radio centers have similar origins and struggle stories inspiring many more to join the bandwagon.
Issues picked up and pinpointed by these stations include shrinking of agriculture land, migration of farmers, declining area of broadleaf forest such as Oak which holds groundwater, forest fires, landslides to heavy machinery and construction, loss of local culture, cuisine and tradition along with many plaguing the state.
However, every aspect of life and functioning in these radio centers are not so bleak. "WE also run entertainment programs in the stations including songs, plays and stories in regional as well as in the Hindi language. Many of these programs are really popular, " said Negi.