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EC seeks support from Ham radio operators

Drimi Chaudhuri Kolkata, Mar 27, 2016 , DHNS 1:23 IST
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought support from Ham radio operators, who were applauded for their service during the earthquake in Nepal, in the upcoming Assembly elections in Bengal.

Amateur operators with high frequency radios will provide communications support to EC officials in areas with negligible or zero mobile telephone network. In a letter to Ambarish Nag Biswas, secretary of West Bengal Radio Club (Amateur), the poll panel has asked for support during the six-phase polls in Bengal, starting from April 4.

Ham radio operators will use their radio transmitters to create a line of communications, helping poll officials, poll observers and the central forces to keep in touch with each other, an EC official said.

Nag Biswas received a letter from the District Election Officer of North 24 Parganas, under orders from ECI, asking for communications support using Ham radio in “mobile shadow zones”. These zones are communication blind spots, not covered by any cellular network tower. While the initial request is for polling on April 25 at North 24 Parganas, Nag Biswas said that he expects further requests to come in from other districts.

On April 25, Ham radio operators will set up a communications network, connecting 24 constituencies that fall under “mobile shadow” zones. “We’ve received a request to cover the blind spots in mobile telephony at 24 constituencies in North 24 Parganas,” Nag Biswas said. The job of Ham radio operators will be to provide minute-by-minute information to the sector electoral office and district magistrate on incidents of violence and other untoward occurrences. “We’ll also acquire data on poll percentage, EVM malfunction and such incidents at booths from polling staff and send forward updates to officials concerned,” he said.

Nag Biswas added that before they are sent to these areas, EC will impart them with training as it is done for other polling staff. They will be reaching the constituencies two days in advance to set up their devices, batteries, and transmitters, necessary to have a workable network.

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