Nearly 40,000 fishing vessels on Kerala coast have been told to keep the state government, national security agencies, coast guards, the Navy and marine police in the know of their movements.
Nearly 40,000 fishing vessels on Kerala coast have been told to keep the state government, national security agencies, coast guards, the Navy and marine police in the know of their movements. National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed an app to keep this info network linked, in the context of the glitches in the rescue operations during Ockhi cyclone aftermath. Fishing boats are already using India’s satellite navigational equipment NAVIC to mark their location, while on the move. The newly developed NIC app would help enhance the range of mobile phones by about 1,500 km. In the long run, the app by NIC, Thiruvananthapuram, will be linked to the fishing vessels in nine coastal states and four union territories. According to the NIC database, the country has 2.8 lakh registered fishing vessels. “However since this newly developed app would be active only in Android phones, the state government would give free Android phones to those venturing to sea for livelihood,” says M Tajudeen, deputy director, marine department. “If ISRO can enable NAVIC sets to relay information to mainland, there would be a two-way communication between those venturing into the seas and state and central marine control rooms. This would be in the second phase of the project.”
This would also mean that the fishermen have to inform state and central control rooms when they are leaving the harbour or getting back to port, with direction details, crew data etc. Form their side, the national security agencies will be able to keep tabs, if any vessel is forcefully detained by any foreign power.
During the Ockhi cyclone, that caused 245 fatalities and left over 550 missing, the lingering grouse was that the red alert on dangerous weather was not made available in time to the fishermen who ventured into the seas. The newly developed app can relay notifications from scientific organisations on location of shoals, deep sea traffic, weather quality, wind speed, visibility, wave height and spell out warnings about stepping out into international shipping channels or sea borders. According to Tajudeen, the project would be linked to insurance coverage for boat owners and the onus would be on the state government to ensure compliance.