The Computer Association of Nepal-USA (CAN-USA) has called on the Amateur Radio community to urge the government of Nepal to release radio equipment being held up in customs, so that it can be used to support the earthquake relief and recovery effort. CAN-USA held a news conference May 1 in Santa Clara, California, to publicize its role in providing disaster communication in Nepal as well as to promote its fund-raising efforts. CAN-USA calls its project to advance Amateur Radio in Nepal “Radio Mala,” describing it as “disaster communication infrastructure to connect Kathmandu and the surrounding region in a ring of protective Amateur Radio communication.” CAN-USA — also known as the Global Nepali Professional Network (GNPN) — funded and installed the only Amateur Radio repeater currently in service in Nepal and donated a transmitter that was recently used to transmit slow-scan TV images of the affected area to a Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) operator in Afghanistan.
“Radio Mala team members have been working on their disaster-communication project for Nepal for several years, knowing a massive earthquake in Nepal was imminent,” the organization said on its Facebook page. “Their single repeater, which was erected in 2013, withstood the devastating 7.8 earthquake that hit on April, 25, 2015, and is the only repeater that has been in constant use since the earthquake occurred. This team is now even more invigorated to complete their project to help provide crucial communication well into the future.”
CAN-USA said that as Nepal responds to the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25, Amateur Radio has been playing “a key role in the recovery effort.” In a news release in advance of its May 1 event, Radio Mala decried “bureaucratic misunderstanding” in Nepal that, it said, is keeping needed Amateur Radio equipment out of the hands of responders.
“Advanced radio equipment intended for the Radio Mala project has been locked up in Nepali customs since March — equipment for a next-generation Amateur Radio which could have saved lives had it been deployed before the earthquake struck,” the organization said. “Radio Mala has contacted and received support from the US State Department and the US Embassy in Kathmandu in an attempt to release the equipment from Nepali customs, but has not yet been successful.”
The group called on radio amateurs “in Nepal and around the world to unite in asking that the equipment be released, so that it may be deployed immediately in support of the Nepali people.”
The “Ham Radio Mala” Facebook page includes more information on Amateur Radio’s role in the current earthquake relief and recovery effort.