The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is dire: an estimated of 215 people have died in the state’s worst flood in six decades and around 90,000 people have been rescued so far. What made the matters worse is, when the floods first hit the state, the entire carrier network collapsed. It reminds me of the 2005 Mumbai floods and the plight of people who were unable to contact their near and dear ones.
While the network is restored now, let’s look at what telcos have to offer during the crisis situation in J&K.
– Aircel recently started offering Aircel Locate, a free location based tracking service, to help people locate their friends and family. All that a user needs to do is send an SMS LOCATE to 54654 from anywhere in India and they will immediately receive the nearest known location and the latitude/longitude of the requested user. There are some privacy concerns here to be addressed but there’s not much to do in the current situation.
– Aircel has also made its missed call service for free for its users in the worst affected areas in Kashmir.
– Mobile Charging booths are deployed for all stranded, to make calls free of cost.
– As markets are closed, Aircel Credit is extended to entire based. Subscribers can also avail top up on the loan.
– It moved all subscribers from GRACE Bucket to ACTIVE bucket without recharge to enable them to start communicating.
– All automatic VAS renewals have been on hold so that subscribers have sufficient balance to make calls.
– Airtel is offering free calling facility for 60 minutes per day to each of its subscribers from 12-17 September.
– It has also setup 5 VSAT terminals at critical areas to create public Wi-Fi hotspots, thus enabling free data services.
– It has set up PCOs in Poonch, Airfield and Nagli Saab providing free calls to everyone.
– Airtel Emergency Alert: Airtel customers across the country can now connect with their loved ones in J&K by just sending an SMS to toll free number 55100. This service will work even if an Airtel customer has ZERO balance in their mobile account and can be used to search for a J&K Airtel number.
– BSNL announced that it will be providing free telecom services, that is, free calls and SMS, to all of its customers in Srinagar area of Jammu and Kashmir. Even customers from northern part of the country, who have traveled to Srinagar area can make free calls. The service was started on 11th September and will continue for the next 10 days.
– Idea Cellular auto credited Rs 12 in the accounts of customers with low balance.
– Idea Cellular too, introduced a similar offer like Airtel to offer 60 minutes free calling for all subscribers in Kashmir Valley.
– It has also setup several free PCOs allowing people to connect with their family and friends.
– Vodafone too introduced daily 60 minute free local and STD calls in the flood affected areas.
– It also introduced an easy way to avail SIM card without the need of Proof of Identity/Residence since many seem to have lost their identity papers in flood.
– RCom announced that it started offering free first 2 minutes of call from PCOs in flood affected areas.
– DoT had requested that since RCOM has coverage in relief camp areas, Rcom should provide free calling facility via PCOs; keeping DoT’s request in mind, RCOM extend this facility at once, with the first 2 minutes of each PCO call being free.
It’s quite commendable that telcos have come up with offers to keep the victims connected with their families. We will keep this list updated and do let us know if we missed any offers.