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Air raid alert system not functional in parts of Rajasthan

Aparnesh Goswami, Bikaner: The air raid precaution (ARP) system that alerts citizens against an enemy air

attack has gone on the blink in Rajasthan.
The ARP system, under which sirens at different locations in cities go off with one switch at a telephone exchange, is functional in only two of the 13 towns where it had been installed.
The development came to light recently when the civil defence department tested the ARP system in the view of present situation along the Indo-Pakistan border following India’s surgical strikes on terror launch pads along the Line of Control on Kashmir.
The ARP systems were installed 35 years ago following a home ministry notification for all civil defence towns (CDTs) across the country.
There are 13 CDTs in Rajasthan – Jaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur, Kota, Bharatpur, Alwar, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Sriganganagar, Suratgarh, Bikaner, Nal and Rawatbhata – due to their strategic importance. But the ARP system is functional in only Kota and Sriganganagar.
The ARP system in Bikaner which was tested on October 7 was among those that failed.
The sirens were connected with copper cables to the main telephone exchange, where, one switch could activate all of them.
The state-run BSNL which has replaced its network with optical cables had already declared the ARP system as outdated in 11 towns.
Deputy controller of civil defence in Bikaner, Gyanendra Singh said the ARP system was a centralized system that became obsolete even as telecommunication technology was upgraded.
In Bikaner, there are nine sirens but they are not interconnected. So in an emergency, each of these sirens would have to be manually set off. In case of a war, civil defence staff will have to man these nine locations in three shifts of eight hours each.
Officials rue that the civil defence and disaster management department has not been able to develop an alternative system of warning all these years.
Sources said that the department received a public warning system called electronic ARP in 2006-07 from ITI Limited, a government telecom company in Bengaluru. But it was returned seeking some modification.
“We are soon replacing the outdated ARP with the new EARP. We are in touch with several agencies to get the new system installed,” junior staff officer (JSO), civil defence, Pholchand told HT.
Sources said that a system called WARS, was running successfully in Ahmedabad, but that was not perfect for border towns.
The civil defence department testes the system from time to time as and when needed, sources said. But there is apparently no specific time frame for the tests.
Old timers in the department officials say some sirens went off during Operation Parakram in 2001 but the system has not worked after that.

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