Any technology or device has its own plus and minus aspects. However its efficacy depends on how much of its plus points we could turn to our advantage. That means it is for us to make the technology to serve us, not the other way round. This is just what Pondicherry Multipurpose Social Service Society (PMSSS), an NGO, has done quite successfully. The society has virtually turned the tides in favour of the fishing community in Pondicherry and districts of Cuddalore and Villupuram in Tamil Nadu, by making best use of Information & Communication Technologies to reshape the daily life of fishing folk. It all started with the setting up of a main information hub, supported by ISRO, at the headquarters of the society at Pondicherry. The hub relays information to Village Information Centres (VICs) located in the villages. The identified villages are nine in Pondicherry, eight and three in Cuddalore and Karaikal respectively. The villagers in these 20 coastal hamlets are being provided information and knowledge that enrich their day-to-day life. Besides routine information, alert messages are flashed in case there is a possibility of imminent disaster. It was a pioneering effort by PMSSS to take technology to people in the area that bore the brunt of tsunami five years ago.
The setup is designed to make announcements through Public Address(PA) system thrice a day on weather, wave heights, wind speed, potential areas where fish could be found and the daily market price of fish. This information is also displayed on boards in each of these villages. However the reach of PA system is limited to one kilometer. This limitation too was overcome by the never-dying spirit of those at the helm of PMSSS. The society tied up with the Pondicherry station of All India Radio to air 'Pudhu Yugam Padaipom” (Let us strive for a new dawn), a programme targeting the fishing folk. This communication mode was thought of on the request of fishermen to know the weather conditions while in deep sea. The Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, and the Chennai-based Indian Meteorological Department provide information on weather forecast and wave height. A digital display system has been set up at PMSSS' Headquarters in Puducherry with the help of ISRO that provides all details relating to ocean, to the fisher folk. This NGO has also deployed its own Wave Rider Buoy at Bay of Bengal, Chinnaveerampattinam, Puducherry in 2007 to measure the wave height, for the safety of the fishermen of these villages.
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