Should disaster strike the city, any sort of rescue operation will be hampered in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). This is because wireless handsets or walkie talkies, technically known as Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA), fail to work inside the Metro, especially in the underground route.
A concerned Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has now asked the DMRC to install repeaters that will boost the signals required for the smooth functioning of the TETRA radio wireless communication system.
According to sources, all DDMA officials and other agencies have been provided with TETRA sets to communicate. While the system works perfectly outside the stations, it is unable to function in the underground section due to weak signals.
The issue was raised by DDMA in August at a meeting held with the ministry of home affairs to discuss the Metro contingency plan.
The DDMA is now pressing the DMRC to install the repeaters at the earliest.
In the meeting, it was further pointed out that the lack of a proper communication system could lead to disaster if there is an emergency.
According to the minutes of the meeting, (a copy of which is with Hindustan Times), the DMRC is yet to approve the installation of repeaters in the underground section of Delhi Metro, which hampers the effective flow of communication.
It was decided in the meeting that DMRC should consider the request and allow the installation of repeaters.
"In case of any emergency, we would need to communicate with various departments such as fire, the civic bodies or the hospitals. All these agencies are connected on the Tetra network. However, due to weak signal, it will be difficult to communicate smoothly and it can affect rescue operations too," said a senior Delhi government official.
A Delhi Metro official, however, said that permission had been granted to install the repeaters. "We have given permission and they will be installed soon."
In a mock-drill conducted on July 28 this year, the preliminary report had pointed out that the TETRA sets did not function properly, especially at underground stations. The drill was conducted by the DDMA at 11 metro stations.
"We have been reminding DMRC about the installation of repeaters to avoid any problem in case of a disaster," a Delhi government official said.