Telecom operators — Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Bharti Airtel, BSNL, MTS India, etc. are gearing up to restore and improve their mobile operations in the flood hit Uttarakhand.
Mobile service provider Bharti Airtel said it would give Rs 10 talk-time to its 20,000 customers with a balance less than Re 1.
This offer will benefit all the visiting Airtel customers who were in the four affected districts, including Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Tehri Garwhal, between June 14 and 16. Besides, 50 extra Airtel-to-Airtel local minutes have also been credited to the trapped customers.
Airtel has also started free of cost Emergency Alert Service for the customers registered in the Visitor Location Register in the affected districts.
Airtel calling booths (facility available to all) to enable free calling for the victims have been set up along with three relief camps at ITBP camp in Joshimath of Chamoli district, Phata and Guptkashi in Rudraprayag district.
Vodafone on Wednesday said to sustain the network in areas of heavy destruction and ensuring uninterrupted coverage, the company has taken several measures.
The telecom major says it has deployed Instant Network (portable BTS) at a relief camp set-up by the local administration in Mayali Village (between Tehri Garwal & Uttarkashi) located in Rudraprayag District towards Kedarnath Highway.
This is the first time ever that such a network has been installed and used in the country. Since it is portable, it can be easily dismantled and reinstalled at another location, especially in times of crisis, depending on the on-ground situation.
Vodafone also transported 4 charging stations to the area and hundreds of people in the relief camp and those stranded around it have benefitted as they are able to charge their phones and connect with their dear ones over a stable network.
It is also partnering other network service providers at affected sites in the districts of Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Tehri and Uttarkashi to ensure availability of network coverage.
Vodafone Foundation is making a donation of INR 78,75,486 (£85,684) for relief work to cover the provision of 2200 family packs (containing basic necessities like kitchen sets, clothing, mosquito nets etc.) to the areas worst affected.
Vodafone Foundation has partnered with Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), which already has supporting infrastructure in place, for distribution of relief kits.
Vodafone Foundation is launching ‘Operation Care’ to actively raise money for emergency supplies, both internally from Vodafone India employees as well as externally in association withSAMHITA, a local NGO.
Vodafone India has sent SMS to approx. 20 lac subscribers in the affected areas informing them of the govt. published Disaster Management Numbers.
State-run telecom operator BSNL has restored 272 mobile towers in Uttarakhand and 44 telephone exchanges.
The company, however, could not restore telecom infrastructure at three locations – Dharchula, Narayan Bazar and Kedarnath where all equipments of the company were washed away in the devastating floods, he added.
Over 1,250 people used BSNL’s mobile tracking service, accessible though helpline number 1503 and 09412024365, to know last location of their friends and relatives using BSNL mobile connection in flood-hit areas.
Telecom operator MTS and Aircel have also similar started mobile tracking services. These services can be accessed by dialling 91-9152550000 and 91-9152550001 for knowing the last location of an MTS number and 91-9716215000 and 91-9716218000 for an Aircel number.
For Bharti Airtel, the numbers are 9818003057 and 9958976317 while for the last location of an Idea Cellular customer, people can dial 8191999999 and 8191999998.
MTS India has partnered with Goonj, an NGO for its Raahat (Relief and Comfort) Floods campaign.
The company has organized a collection drive at the various MTS offices in which employees have been donating woollens, blankets, cooking utensils, dry fruits, baby milk powder, biscuits, noodles and other utility items such as flex banners, torch, umbrella, lantern, candles, rope and first aid kit.
In addition, MTS UP (West) circle team has set up phone booths at Doiwala Government hospital and at Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. The on ground services are helping the rescued pilgrims and tourists to connect with their friends and families. This service has been made available for free.
Idea has a network of over 1,358 sites connecting over 26 lakh customers across all 13 Districts in the state of Uttarakhand.
The recent natural calamity has destroyed some of its cell sites in the region, and some of them are located in areas which are now unreachable for diesel refueling and repair work.
Despite all the challenges, Idea has restored its services in many affected areas, allowing only a very short duration of network outage, and providing the critically needed access to stranded visitors and other subscribers.
Idea is offering emergency services to enable people to connect with their family and friends, and the concerned Government departments.
In addition, Idea has set up a stall at the relief camp in Dehradun which is providing free PCO and Internet connectivity for people to contact with their families and friends. A similar camp is being set up in Haridwar also.
About 3.23 lakh customers in the affected areas, whose main account balance was less than Rs. 5 have been credited with talktime of Rs. 10 to remain in touch with family and friends. Roaming subscribers from other circles will also get a similar facility.