Saturday, December 05, 2015

In Chennai where communications are cut off, ham radio operators chip in

Ham radio operators have swung into action in flood-hit Chennai where communication network at several places was affected. In addition to Hams who have surfaced, having been caught in the flood waters themselves, to provide the required communication to carry out relief works, many more hams from across the country are ready to travel to Chennai.

Five hams from Hyderabad, 10 from West Bengal, eight from Kerala and some from Coimbatore are coordinating with the National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR) in Hyderabad.

"Everyone is ready to render their services. Many more are volunteering. The Tamil Nadu government should have a monitoring agency to fully utilize the services of hams. If the government is willing to do that, many hams from different parts of the country are eager to go to Chennai," S Rammohan, director of NIAR told TOI.

On Friday morning, Rammohan who goes by the call sign VU2MYH got in touch with hams in Chennai. "Hams there are networking among themselves and providing information for relief works to be taken up," he said.

For the first time in a major way, hams are not just sticking to providing information where other means of communication are not working, like telephones and mobiles, but also helping in relief works.

VU2DH has a shipping agency with branches in different parts of the country and his work would have kept him busy otherwise. But with the deluge in Chennai, Dev Das, got into the act to be of service to the public. "Water was flowing at 12 feet at the place where I am standing now. This has been the situation in the last three to four days. Today, the water has receded a bit and enabled us to come here," Dev Das told TOI from Chennai.

Dev Das was at a locality close to Jafferkhanpet, near the airport in Chennai. Another ham, VU2GMN, is also active providing communication network.

In all 20 hams are active in Chennai. "Sadly, we do not have government support. But we cannot keep quiet because we want to be of help to the people," Dev Das said. Not only did Dev Das cook food for 50 people at his residence to take to the flood affected people, he is also collecting food packets wherever they are available and distributing where necessary.

The 20 hams in Chennai have informally tied up themselves with someone from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). By