Bhubaneswar: At least 100,000 fishermen in Odisha will start getting free voice alerts in Odia related to weather, tsunamis and cyclones on their mobiles within a fortnight, officials said Friday.

The state government has signed a pact with IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL) Thursday to provide the service, Bishnupada Sethi, fishery and animal husbandry department secretary, told IANS.

IKSL is a joint venture promoted by state-run Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), Bharti Airtel, and Star Global Resources Ltd..  Out of 12 lakh state fishermen, both in costal and interior areas, one lakh fishermen will initially be provided a free SIM card, Sethi said.

The farmers will receive 4-5 free voice messages daily in Odia, the state’s official  language, he added.  The information and advisories would be provided to them in the form of brief one minute capsules focused on an area of local and contextual importance, he said.  While the voice messaging service will be free of charge, the fishermen will also be given Rs.30 free talktime every month for about a year.

 “The alert especially help illiterate and semi-literate fishermen who cannot read a SMS (short message service),” Sethi said.  The project will cost Rs.3.5 crore in the first year, he said.   The enrolled fishermen will also have access to a helpline the government planned to set up, he added.  The Odisha government had been lauded by various national and internal agencies for evacuating more than a million people which ensured minimum loss of lives during cyclone Phailin in October, 2013.

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