Bhubaneswar, June 25 (LocalWire): The state government set up Location Based Alert system in State Emergency Operations Centre, integrated with BSNL, to send bulk messages to alert people about impending disasters which was widely used during Cyclone Fani.
BSNL is not supposed to charge for these messages but they sent a whopping bill for the advisories sent.
In a letter to the Secretary (T) and Chairman, Digital Communlcations Commission, Department of Telecommunication, Ministry of Communications, Aruna Sundararajan, the chief secretary of Odisha, AP Padhi, wrote, ‘as per the provisions of ‘5OP-2017’for Telecommunication Services for Responding to Disasters issued by the Ministry of communications, Government of India, the telecom service providers (TSPs) are not supposed to charge for these messages. But, BSNL submitted a bill amounting to Rs.4.98 crore for the messages sent through them during the month of April and May, 2019.’
Operational from 15 March, 2019, nearly 1.80 crore SMSes with warning messages were sent to people in the likely-to-be-affected areas through their BSNL mobile phones prior to the landfall of Cyclone Fani.
Advisories were also sent to people in the affected areas in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone. This helped in saving lives and property during the cyclone.
Besides, SMS alerts are also being used for informing people about the upcoming thunderstorms and lightning.
The National Disaster Management Authority has already requested the department of telecommunications vide its letter No.3- LU20IB1PMU/275 dated 2 May 2019, to instruct TSPs not to charge for the SMSes sent as disaster warning/ alert messages.
Apart from these, the remaining TSPs operating in Odisha need to establish the required support infrastructure at their end and integrate with the SEOC to facilitate seamless dissemination of the warning/ alert messages.
Padhi also requested Sundararajan to issue suitable instructions to BSNL not to charge for the SMSes containing warning/ alerts/ advisories relating to different disasters including Fani and direct other TSPs operating in the state to take immediate steps to establish required infrastructure and integrate it with the SEOC to send location-based mass alert messages to their customers prior to, during and in the immediate aftermath of any disaster and not to charge any cost towards the SMSes.