The countries of the Indian subcontinent suffer continually from natural disasters such as drought, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, forest fires, hailstorms, and locusts. These disasters have a devastating impact on human life, economy and environment. Lack of proper telecommunication infrastructure in suburban and rural areas, and the virtual absence of any disaster management plan, has served to compound the suffering, loss of life and property damage resulting from these natural catastrophies. The Indian state of Maharashtra is the first state in the region to implement a comprehensive, multi-hazard disaster management plan. Supported by The World Bank, UNDP and UK Department for International Development (DFID), the emphasis of this multifaceted program is on disaster management response, disaster awareness and education. The construction of a disaster communications network has been carried out as an integral component of the plan. The network, based on VSATs and VHF networks in each of Maharashtra’s 30 districts, is also planned to be used for general state government administration and rural development programmes. The Maharashtra disaster management project was implemented at a cost of US $ 11 million and became operational in March 2000.
N.K.Chhibber, Secretary General, PTC India Foundation, India. Maharashtra Communication Network for Disaster Management.