KOCHI: As Kerala prepares for the onslaught of another monsoon, ham radio operators are setting up stations at major dam sites to negate communication breakdowns in an emergency. Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Edamalayar and Kallarkutty are lined up to get ham radio channels. Idukki Ham Radio Emergency Communication Society secretary Manoj T R, who coordinates operations in the district, told TNIE that ham stations will be set up at major dam sites by next week.
“As the meteorological department predicts heavy rains, we are going to set up ham stations at major dams. The communication channels between dams were broken during the 2018 deluge. Considering that, dams like Kallarkutty, Mullaperiyar, Idukki and Edamalayar will have ham stations soon. We are awaiting the nod from the district collector and the KSEB chairman,” he said. Three other stations will be set up at the Karimanal power house, Vallakkadavu and Uppukandam along the path of the Periyar. In emergency situations, ham radio stations play a crucial role.
During the devastating floods in 2018, the lack of such a communication facility had foiled attempts to reinstate the operation of dams which were breached. “We are like police officers,” said Subramanian N Shastry, director, Institute of Amateur Radio in Kerala. “Similar to their march past, we have daily roll drills. As a warming-up process, all our stations go through the drills between 7am and 8am.” Currently, the operators are pushing themselves to the next level to ensure Covid precautions.
“Be it the welfare of migrants or the disbursal of medicines, our networks are being utilised to the maximum across India. Like the way we worked in the harrowing days of the 2018 deluge, and Covid-19 now, we are giving ourselves new lessons in radio operation. From the experiences of previous years, we now have a clear idea about what to expect,” he said.
They have launched a specific platform in high frequency channels to manage the Covid situation. “Three days after the lockdown announcement, a war room was set up at our Karnataka station. Since then, we have been acting as a supporting station for them. Even while being at home, we remain as the second line of communication,” Shastry said. The operators have also organised several online classes on the functioning of ham radio.