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Within hours, scientist duo got a communication system started

The temporary arrangement ensured that phone lines started working and they could contact the concerned authorities.

Written by Vijaita Singh | Kathmandu |
Updated: April 29, 2015 1:37:03 am
Nepalese policemen look for survivors in the debris of a building that collapsed in an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal ,Sunday, April 26, 2015. Sleeping in the streets and shell-shocked, Nepalese cremated the dead and dug through rubble for the missing Sunday, a day after a massive Himalayan earthquake devastated the region and destroyed homes and infrastructure. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup) Nepalese policemen look for survivors in the debris of a building that collapsed in an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal ,Sunday, April 26, 2015.

The 7.9 Richter scale earthquake that hit Nepal Saturday had led to the complete collapse of the country’s communication system.

As a sound communication system is essential for rescue and relief work, India immediately sent two scientists from its National Informatics Centre (NIC) to Kathmandu to put in place a communication system for the NDRF teams and rescue workers of other agencies.

Within hours of reaching Kathmandu, NIC scientist Suresh Manral had put up a VSAT antenna at the temporary base of the NDRF team.
“We linked the VSAT with two IFL cables, which were then connected to a modem or Indoor Unit (IDU). The IDU was then connected to two IP phones, which we had brought from India,” says Manral.

IAF and NDRF personnel on their way to earthquake-hit Nepal on Monday to carry out rescue operations. (Source: PTI Photo) IAF and NDRF personnel on their way to earthquake-hit Nepal on Monday to carry out rescue operations. (Source: PTI Photo)

The temporary arrangement ensured that phone lines started working and they could contact the concerned authorities in PMO, Home Ministry, NDRF headquarters among others. “For any smooth rescue and relief operation, an operational communication system is crucial,” says Manral’s colleague Vinod Adhikari.

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The duo then connected the VSAT to satellite INSAT 4CR. “The satellite sends information to our hub in Delhi and also relays it back to the VSAT antenna,” adds Adhikari. Before their arrival, the NDRF teams were communicating with VHF handsets.

Meanwhile, Manral has got a request from Cabinet Secretariat to initiate video-conferencing facilities.

“It’s a challenge as we only have two laptops which have been provided by the NDRF. We are also being asked to set up a similar system at the Indian Embassy here. We are trying our best though,” says Manral who has very limited resources in hand.

At the NDRF control room, Deputy Commandant Roshan Singh Aswal has been in charge for most part of the last 72 hours. The wireless sets are not left unattended even for a minute as the officer arranges logistics and guides his teammates in the relief and rescue operations.
“The wireless set has a range of 30 km and we can talk to our teams deployed at various locations in Kathmandu. It helps us to get real-time information and also convey it to Delhi,” says Aswal as his colleague Anand Kumar jots down details on a noticeboard in the room.

In the thick of things, Aswal and his colleague get a request from Nepal Army officials to relocate their base. “Since they are the host country, we will have to honour their request. Though we will have to shift everything and begin setting up the communication network again, we do not have an option,” says Aswal as he directs his colleagues to begin the shifting.

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