With some service providers moving in mobile base station towers, cellular services have been partially restored in Vedaranyam, one of the worst-hit coastal towns in Nagapattinam district by Cyclone Gaja.
According to a rough estimate, there are about 10,000 mobile connections in Vedaranyam, which is dominated by fishermen, fishing companies, farmers, salt pans and prawn farm promoters. All mobile networks, including BSNL, were cut off as strong winds uprooted mobile towers. More than 10 massive towers located along Nagapattinam to Kodiakarai collapsed, throwing the networks out of gear.
Although engineers of service providers stationed in Vedaranyam began restoration work immediately, the complete uprooting of mobile towers made their task difficult.
At least two service providers now appear to have restored their networks partially by bringing in mobile base station towers. However, most of the people of the coastal town are still not able to use their mobile phones due to lack of power supply.
“We have received information that a couple of service providers have managed to resume their networks partially. But, there is difficulty in charging mobile phones,” said a relief official.
Meanwhile, in order to enable people to withdraw cash, a public sector bank has sent a mobile automated teller machine (ATM). Long queues were seen at the ATM on Saturday.
Massive kitchens have been established at 106 places to provide food to 19,000 residents. Most of them have been staying in special camps for the last eight days.
Forest Minister Dindigul C. Sreenivasan, who is camping at Vedaranyam, said all those in relief shelters were being fed thrice a day. Each household would be given a bag of relief material on Sunday.