India’s regional satellite navigation system (NAVIC), developed by the ISRO and dedicated to the country’s boatmen last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is set to be applied to warn Kerala’s deep-sea fishermen about changing weather patterns.
In the aftermath of Cyclone Ockhi, in which over 70 fishermen lost their lives in Kerala alone, questions were raised about the safety and security of fisherfolk at sea. Now, with the application of NAVIC, warning signals and messages can be sent to the boats from the shore.
On a pilot basis starting in January, around 500 satellite-enabled communication gadgets, manufactured with ISRO’s technology, are set to be fitted in fishing boats and deep-sea vessels in the state. In the event of changing weather like strong winds or cyclone, fishermen, out at sea, can be warned about the same.
“This device has a receiver, it doesn’t have a transmitter. So, it only allows now for one-way communication. It is an established and proven system,” said MC Dathan, scientific advisor to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
He added that ISRO has promised to supply 250 communication sets by January 10 with the rest coming in later weeks.
The ISRO has teamed up with Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) for the transmission of messages using the NAVIC system. A master control room, set up at Thiruvananthapuram, and six regional control rooms near main harbours such as Kochi, Kollam and Kozhikode will be a part of the warning system.
“Messages can be sent to fishermen up to 1500 kilometres. We will be sending daily updates of the sea state, current wave conditions and whether there will be extreme weather events,” said Dr Balakrishnan Nair, a scientist at INCOIS.