Coming to the rescue of Fani-hit Odisha, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has urged the Ministry of Telecommunications to consider the waiver proposal of Odisha Government for SMS cost.
NDMA Member Secretary G V V Sarma has written to Anshu Prakash, Union Secretary Telecommunications, in this regard.
Sarma has pointed out to the Union Secretary that during the National
Crisis Management Committee(NCMC) headed by Cabinet Secretary held on May 2, Member Technology of the Department of Telecommunications had stated that all the Telecom Service Providers(TSP)s have been instructed to allow SMS free of cost for severe cyclone Fani.
Sarma has rich experience in handling natural disasters and he belongs to Odisha cadre of IAS and the State is continuously facing disasters time and again.
So he took up the issue with all seriousness with the Government of India as Member Secretary NDMA, which has been actively extending all -out support for the State during natural disasters in general and Fani in particular.
Super storm Fani hit the State on May 3 and during that period nearly 1.80 crore SMSes alert were sent to people in 14 affected districts, which not only informed them but helped them to save their lives.
As per provisions of “SOP-2017” for Telecommunication Services for responding to disasters”, issued by the Ministry of Telecommunications, Government of India, the Telecom Service Providers (TSP)s are not supposed to charge these SMSes.
But, the BSNL has submitted a bill amounting to Rs 4.98 crore for the messages sent through them during month of April and May, 2019.
After that the Odisha Government has requested the Union Government to ask BSNL and other telecom service providers not to charge any cost for SMS containing warning, alerts and advisories relating to different disasters.
Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi has written to Union Telecommunications Secretary in this regard, asking her to direct BSNL and others in this regard. Padhi informed that the State Government has set up Location based Alert System (LBAS) in the State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) and it has been integrated with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for sending bulk messages. This facility has been made operational from March 15, 2019 with a view to forewarning the people about upcoming disasters for enabling them to take necessary precautions. This facility was widely utilized during cuclone Fani.
When Fani hit the State on May 3, alert SMSes were sent to the people in disaster zones and it played a major role in informing the people and saving their lives.