As floods and incessant rains ravage Kerala, country’s top telecom operators have stepped in their efforts to provide communication services to their subscribers with their officials working towards ensuring that networks are running despite challenges like lack of power supply and disruption in movement of fuel supplies. Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio have announced free talk time and data for prepaid subscribers, while postpaid subscribers will get extended time to pay their bills. Bharti in a statement said, “The unprecedented rains and floods in Kerala have disrupted normal life. Airtel has announced auto approval of talk time credit up to Rs 30 for all prepaid mobile customers and free 1 GB mobile data for all prepaid smart phone users with a validity of 7 days”.
Besides, the operator has also extended bill payment dates for all postpaid and home broadband customers to ensure they have uninterrupted access to services and is deploying VSAT at five major relief centres in Kerala to provide free Wi-Fi and calling facility to people, it added. “Citizens at large can charge (power) their mobile phones and make free calls to their loved ones from select Airtel flagship stores located in Thrissur, Calicut, Malappuram, Kannur, Kottayam, Trivandrum and Ernakulam,” Bharti said. Similarly, Idea is offering emergency talk time credit of `10 for all its prepaid customers. Also prepaid subscribers will get 1 GB data free valid for 7 days. This benefit will be automatically credited to customers’ account. “Idea will extend the due date for bill payment for all postpaid customers to ensure they continue using the services, uninterrupted,” the company said.
Vodafone said, “To enable our customers in Kerala to remain connected in this hour of dire need, on an immediate basis, Vodafone offers a talk time credit of up to `30 to all prepaid mobile customers. Additionally, 1 GB of mobile data is being auto credited free of cost. To ensure that postpaid customers have uninterrupted access to services, Vodafone has given an extension on bill payment dates”. Likewise, Jio has informed its subscribers in the state through an SMS that it is extending a complimentary 7 days unlimited voice and data pack. While Idea has 12.4 million customers in the state, Vodafone has around 8 million users. Bharti and Jio have 5.02 and 5.8 million subscribers respectively.
According to PTI, floods continue to ravage most parts of Kerala, especially Pathanamthitta, Ernakukam and Alappuzha districts, where several people, including children and elderly, are trapped in their houses. Incessant rains have lead to rise in flood waters in Periyar river as well as opening of shutters of all major dams including Mullaperiyar, Cheruthoni, part of Idukki reservoir, and Idamalayar, have severely affected lives of people in downstream areas. High alert situation continues in all the 14 districts in the state and more than 1.5 lakh people have been moved to hundreds of relief camps.