How The Ham Rescue Operation Started In Orissa?

Ham radio has once again proved its utility when the hotline from the Orissa Chief Minister's residence to the nation's capital broke down during the month of October/November 1999. Government of Orissa had to request the ham radio operators to set up communication link between Orissa Bhawan, New Delhi and the Orissa Chief Minister's Residence during the devastating cyclone. For more than a month, communication link within and outside the state of Orissa was maintained through ham radio only.

Orissa CM

Orissa Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang operating a ham radio station set up by a
team of Amateur Radio (NIAR) volunteers

Source: India Today


As per a Times of India News Service report (published on November 3, 1999), the process of establishing an emergency ham radio communication network in the cyclone-ravaged Orissa was started by Sri S.K. Nanda, Managing Director of Gujarat State Finance Corporation (GSFC) and an Oriya IAS officer on October 30, when the first reports of cyclone devastation started trickling in, Mr. Nanda failed to contact his family in Orissa.

Drawing from his earlier experience as the relief commissioner of Gujarat when he banked upon HAM (amateur radio operators) to establish contact, he immediately contacted ham radio operators in Hyderabad. As there was no train or air connection available, a five member team of ham radio operators went by road with wireless sets to Bhubaneswar via Vishakhapatnam and Behrampore. Sri S.K. Nanda, also the president of Gandhinagar Ham Radio Club, said the team was welcomed in Bhubaneshwar and allowed to set up a control room at Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang’s residence.

Members of the team fanned out in the districts and helped government officials establish links with coastal areas where communication had broken down completely. Mr. Nanda was the relief commissioner in 1996 when a cyclone struck Amreli and had sought assistance from ham radio operators to establish contact with the district which was totally cut off for days. Later, in August 1997, he was sent by the Gujarat government to Srinagar when several people from the state were killed in an avalanche during an Amarnath pilgrimage. "I had taken ham operators with me to Srinagar in a state government helicopter because I knew how useful they could be in such situations," he explained.

Thirukkural - 996

Courtesy - Vigyan Prasar - VU2 NCT

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