of Radio in Disaster Management.
Kumar Panigrahi, Mr.Bharat Bajaj, & Mr
V R Hari.
This story helps us
rediscover the power of a small local radio station of ALL INDIA RADIO
to address the call of
the distressed .
is selected from the October 2008 issue of
Khan, not the dreaded Gabbar of Sholay, but an 8 year old lad in a new
shirt, given in the camp, is gazing at faces, on the platforms of Bathnaha
railway station, which has been turned into a mega relief camp for flood
affected people of Bihar. Eyes dried in search of his abba (father) and two
aapas (elder sisters) who have been swept away by the cruel Kosi.
Embracing a branch of tree for five days and fighting for life without any
food and drinking water, he was rescued by army personnel and brought to the
relief camp of Batnaha.
It took 10 minutes for the AIR team to make this boy speak and then he
spoke, live on radio through a mobile phone. Voice choked with emotions and
fear "Abba, ahan kahan chee? I am alone here. Please come and take me
back". Hundreds of eyes surrounding him in the camp swelled with tears. Anil Tiwari of AIR Purnea, who was accompanying the team could
rediscover the power of his small local radio station to reach to the hearts
of the people.
This team from AIR Directorate was dispatched to Bihar on 8th September to
address the post flood distress of the victims of Kosi. The IT team at
Delhi had developed a software which could transfer all the messages coming
to a telephone number to a centralised database and load it on a server
space. A provision had also been kept for uploading the missing persons'
information and posting messages from the field via internet. Apart
from enlivening the AIR stations, this team travelled extensively deep into
the flood affected areas and mega relief camps. There were heart touching
moments at every spot. People in groups with their invaluable radio close to
the heart gathered around the team and poured out their despair as if they
had found the most trusted relative for years. Akashvani had visited them
for the first time after the catastrophe. The staff of local AIR stations
worked relentlessly with a great sense of responsibility and dedication.
The AIR team, after reaching Bhagalpur on 9th September coordinated
the implementation of the special helpline module from the AIR stations of
Bhagalpur, Patna, Darbhanga and Purnea. Once the module was publicised SMSs,
messages through message box and information of missing/found person started
pouring in, which were broadcast at regular intervals by these stations. The
team visited some relief camps and marooned villages around Khagaria and
Sonbarsha. Travelling in wooden boat for two kilometers through the flood
water, the AIR team reached Aakah villages in water to find the villagers
waiting for food, clothes, medicines and drinking water. The roads in the
village had become like canals and had converted the single village in to a
group of small islands.
AIR Darbhanga the situation was amazing. P N Jha, A K Roy along with
engineering friends were busy answering the phones at the console and
directing the presenters in the studio. The phone-in programme being
broadcast from AIR Darbhanga, thrice daily, was getting a wide response and
was highly awaited by thousands of listners. On 12th September at 6.40 PM a
choking voice in the live phone-in programme of AIR Darbhanga, is searching
for his father who has been missing for the past 10 days. The message was on
air. At 7.20 PM a brimming voice came in the same hour long live
phone-in programme "Don't worry; your father is safe at Saharsa".
Radio again united a family. Manikant Jha, popularly known as voice of AIR
Darbhanga, who was slept only for three hours in the past 15 days smiled
All the messages received through SMS on the AIR helpline number were
automatically transferred to a database and uploaded on a central server in
Delhi created by IT division of AIR. The frontline stations of Bihar i.e.
AIR Darbhanga, AIR Bhagalpur, AIR Patna and AIR Purnea would access this
message and within no time it would be on air, reaching every nook and
corner of Bihar. Some of the announcements carried by AIR Darbhanga, Bhagalpur, Purnea and
Shri Bijendra Mishra, who is safe at SSB Camp, Bathnaha is searching for Sh.
Shankar Mishra and his family who were at Balua Bazaar, Saupaul. If
they are listening to this broadcast, they may contact Bijendra Mishra
Sh. Bhavnath Singh, aged 65 years is missing since 01-09-2008. Shri
Prafull Kumar Roy from Naruar, Madhubani, is impatiently searching for him. Information about missing or found persons can also be given to AIR,
Darbhanga, Purnea, Patna and Bhagalpur. Akashvani stands with you
during this testing time and will spread your message throughout the State.
We are sure, with our efforts, your prayers and blessings of the Almighty,
your families will be re-united.
Hundreds of such messages are still reaching All India Radio through SMS,
phones and internet, which are being broadcast regularly. Scenes of tens of
people surrounding a radio set and listening curiously, waiting for news of
their dear ones is a common sight across the relief camps, in the marooned
villages and in the temporary hutments lining both sides of the roads. For
people who have left their homes for the relief camps with just their
clothes they could gather and the radio set this is the only medium to get
In line with AIR Darbhanga the AIR stations of Purnea also started dedicated
phone-in programme for flood victims of thirty minutes duration a day. The
phones kept ringing and the messages kept pouring in. After two days,
keeping in view the public demand, the programme was extended to one hour
daily. The dedicated staff of All India Radio in Bihar was busy in
production and broadcast of programme for the flood affected people, which
is a praiseworthy effort.
current floods in Bihar were not just floods, the people who have seen it
and have saved their lives staying on tree tops, stranded in the waters call
it pralay (a disaster). It was a national catastrophe. It was a
challenge and All India Radio has proved that it is the only source of
information and mode of communication, a trusted friend and above all the
ray of hope. It had already proved this role during the tsunami, the super
cyclone of Orissa and many other natural calamities.
It is well publicised for the people in the areas that are regularly
experiencing the anger of the mighty nature to keep a torch-light and a
radio set ready to face it. In the absence of electricity and uprooted
communication towers the battery powered radio set is the only link with the
outer world. Thus, these were testing times for radio and it proved that
even amidst the glare of hundreds of television channels and glossy
magazines it remains the trusted well wisher of common folks