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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Safe India 2007’ showcases tools for disaster management

Safe India 2007' showcases tools for disaster management Staff Reporter

Sophisticated gadgets including devices for anti-Naxal operations on display
— Photo: K. Gopinathan

Gadgets galore: Chief Justice of Karnataka Cyriac Joseph; Jeeja Harising, DGP and CG Home Guards; Vatsala Watsa, Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department; and C. Chandrashekar, IGP Fire Services, at 'Safe India 2007' in Bangalore on Thursday.

BANGALORE: It looks very like an executive's briefcase. Open it and you find a lightweight, compact V-SAT communication device, which doubles up as a satellite phone for use in areas cut-off from communication.

The device, called S-Band Briefcase Terminal, is among the many equipment showcased as disaster management tools by the Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL). Developed in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation and DEAL, Dehradun, BEL displayed this unique device at the three-day "Safe India 2007" exhibition on disaster management, organised by Directorate of Home Guards, Civil Defence and Fire and Emergency Services. The exhibition was inaugurated by Chief Justice of Karnataka Cyriac Joseph here on Thursday.

Deputy General Manager of BEL Manoj Kumar explained that the briefcase terminal helps in establishing a communication network in inaccessible areas which are totally cut-off. "The first man reaching the spot can establish the much-needed communication system and facilitate relief operations. This can be carried anywhere," he said.

Mr. Kumar said the Indian Army was extensively using the briefcase terminals in its combat operations. Chhattisgarh uses the device for their anti-Naxal operation. "Still, there have not been any requests from the States for using this device for disaster management operations," he said.

The Mobile Emergency Operation Centre (MEOC) is another offer from BEL. It looks similar to the vans used by the broadcast media. The all-terrain vehicle carries among other facilities, the VSAT (very small aperture terminal), video camera, video phone and a laptop computer. Communications can be set up within 30 minutes and links can be established with police stations across the country, using the POLNET facility.

This mobile unit can also establish contacts with the Prime Minister's office and many of the Central Government organisations.

Mr. Kumar said the Home Ministry's National Disaster Management was presently using seven such vehicles.

Knowledge base

Besides the stalls showing disaster management devices, the exhibition also showcases organisations involved in disaster management.

One such stall is that of the Green Hounds, the special anti-Naxalite force of Andhra Pradesh Police. "Dealing with Naxalities is also part of disaster management," said G. Krishna Murthy, Additional Superintendent of Police, as he spoke about the modern weaponry, communication equipment and other gadgets used by the force.

Mr. Murthy displayed the "heat-and-eat" food products procured from Mysore, "which sustains our men for 15 days in the jungle," he said.

The Directorate has a separate stall where the work of the Home Guards, Civil Defence and the Fire and Emergency Services is explained to children. The National Disaster Response Force of Central Industrial Security Force, Indian Coast Guard and Nuclear Power Corporation also display their disaster management mechanisms. A HAM (Amateur) Radio Station also finds a spot in the exhibition.

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