Ham radio has once again proved its utility when the hotline from the Orissa Chief Minister's residence to the nation's capital broke down during the month of October/November 1999. Government of Orissa had to request the ham radio operators to set up communication link between Orissa Bhawan, New Delhi and the Orissa Chief Minister's Residence during the devastating cyclone. For more than a month, communication link within and outside the state of Orissa was maintained through ham radio only.
Drawing from his earlier experience as the relief
commissioner of Gujarat when he banked upon HAM (amateur radio operators) to establish
contact, he immediately contacted ham radio operators in Hyderabad. As there was no train
or air connection available, a five member team of ham radio operators went by road with
wireless sets to Bhubaneswar via Vishakhapatnam and Behrampore. Sri S.K. Nanda, also the
president of Gandhinagar Ham Radio Club, said the team was welcomed in Bhubaneshwar and
allowed to set up a control room at Chief Minister Giridhar Gamangs residence.
Members of the team fanned out in the districts and helped government officials establish
links with coastal areas where communication had broken down completely. Mr. Nanda was the
relief commissioner in 1996 when a cyclone struck Amreli and had sought assistance from
ham radio operators to establish contact with the district which was totally cut off for
days. Later, in August 1997, he was sent by the Gujarat government to Srinagar when
several people from the state were killed in an avalanche during an Amarnath
pilgrimage. "I had taken ham operators with me to Srinagar in a state government
helicopter because I knew how useful they could be in such situations," he