Disaster management should explore CR stations
MUMBAI: Generally, the Community Radio (CR) provides information on health, education and often is instrumental in spreading awareness. But the role of CR is measured during crisis, especially when the other forms of communication come to a standstill.
The core objective of the CR is to prevent panic and the same purpose was served during the recent disaster at Uttarakhand by the existing CR in the affected areas. But clearly there is a growing demand for more and more CR stations. Henvalvani, Mandakini Ki Awaz and Kumaon Vani are few CR stations that are based in these affected area. When Radioandmusic.com contacted Kumaon Vani, they informed that they had remained closed for a couple of days due to heavy rains and landslides.“As other means of communication got disrupted, we had to play a major role in providing information. It was a challenge to set-up anything in the area and communication was affected badly," said an official at Kumaon Vani.
In 2004, when Tsunami hit the state of Tamil Nadu, the CR Anna played an instrumental role in providing information about the survivors and the areas affected. Dr R Sreedher along with a group of university students played a major role by airing the programs to provide relief to the affected area. Media expert and Community Radio Practitioner Dr R Sreedher said, "The government is not interested in promoting Community radio stations. If they (government) could set-up 700 stations at the coast line, it would bring-up such a beautiful group of Community radio stations. We had informed them about the need of the same but the Disaster Management Authority of India has not even considered our demand for emergency transmitters.”
Emphasising on the need of transmitters, he said that the device is useful when the survivors are trying to get in touch with the army especially when, the network on the mobiles do not work.
On being asked but the community radio stations being funded by NGO's, Sreedher further said, "There is nothing happening and the so-called activist make money and play a blame game. Post the disaster in Uttarkhand, there will be NGO’s who might come up with fancy names and start some transmission work and fill their pockets taking financial aid from foreign agencies."
Community Radio Association national president Kandarpa Das said that the disaster management has not even considered the role of CR. “However, we are open to talks but till date we have not been approached by them. Nevertheless we have partnered with many organisations lately to explore the powerful tool for the benefit of the community. If the disaster management explores the possibility of community radio station then it would empower them during the rescue management. A close co-ordination with Community radio stations will prove very positive,” said Das.
Das further added that of the NGO has completed its three years, they might get an approval from the MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) but the WPC (Wireless Planning Commission) clearance for the operation might take long."WPC, department of telecom who is responsible in allocation of frequency have in past few years, made things reasonably difficult for setting-up of any new CR stations,” he concluded.