Bengal's ham radio operators to help Afghan quake affected

Bengal's ham radio operators to help Afghan quake affected

After playing a significant role in the rescue operations during the devastating earthquake in Nepal earlier this year, a group of ham radio operators from West Bengal is all set to fly to Afghanistan to provide a similar service.

Awaiting an official nod from the Indian government, these amateur radio operators are part of a worldwide community that travels to areas hit by natural calamities and disasters, providing communication.

Ambarish Nag Biswas, secretary of the West Bengal Radio Club (Amateur), pointed out that setting up a communication network is often one of the first tasks in areas devastated by an earthquake, cyclone or tsunami. From the tsunami-hit Andaman-Nicobar archipelago to the cyclone-ravaged Odisha, communication networks are usually the first victims, he said.“Communication is key to running rescue operations, but in such cases cellphone networks and Internet services collapse. Our job is to set up a parallel network,” he said.

Biswas has been working as an amateur radio operator for 22 years, helping the administration in crowd management at Ganga Sagar Mela, one of India's largest religious congregations.Having set up the radio club in 2007, which currently has 157 members, Biswas now leads a 30-member team with expertise in setting up communication networks in calamity-hit areas.

“We went to Nepal a day after the earthquake and for the next eight days helped rescue workers and Indian armed forces by setting up a radio network via which they could communicate. Indian military officers appreciated our efforts a lot,” he said.

Nepalese consul general in Kolkata Chandra Kumar Ghimire extolled Biswas and his fellow hams’ role while inaugurating a Durga Puja pandal in north Kolkata, themed on the Nepal quake.

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