The Election Commission has decided to use amateur radio operators to maintain communication with remote locations in Bengal that lack a strong mobile network.
West Bengal Radio Club (Amateur Club), Kolkata, which operates HAM stations, has received EC permission to provide services in the Sunderbans, where communication is always a major challenge. This will allow returning officers and field officials in voice and internet shadow zones (where mobile network is still absent or very weak) to stay connected for hourly updates on the polling day.
The notification came from the wireless planning and coordination (WPC) wing of the department of telecommunications, under the ministry of communications, since it is the highest body that regulates HAM stations. “These operators can use a special call sign during the elections for providing communication support in mobile shadow zones of South 24 Parganas,” an official said.
HAM radio operators have received permission to work in five polling stations of South 24 Parganas — Patharpratima, Ghoramara, Gosaba, Kakdwip and Sagar Island. The stations are to be operated only on authorised amateur frequency bands and are subject to the condition that the amateur wireless equipment will be used for the sole purpose of providing communication support in shadow zones.
Ambarish Nag Biswas, secretary of the amateur radio club, said their team members would now set up base at the five polling stations. He said a system would be in place through which officials at polling stations would be able to directly communicate with observers and others. “In case of a query from the DEO or his staff, the person in charge of a booth will be able to clarify immediately. All those who have been selected were trained by the Indian Academy of Communication and Disaster Management. The communication network will be alive as long as the officials want,” another official said.
It was during the last assembly elections in 2016 that a team of HAM radio operators from the club worked for the first time in mobile shadow zones in 24 polling stations under North 24 Parganas. During 2019 Lok Sabha polls, their help was enlisted yet again.
Source: Times of India