An open letter to the CEO of Prasar Bharti

TSEWANG RIGZIN writes from Leh


Sir, may I take the liberty to approach you regarding the present state of the All India Radio, Leh. You may be aware that AIR Leh has been the only medium in Ladakh and people of Leh Ladakh have relied upon this radio station for years for news—especially Ladakh’s own bulletin, programmes on health, education, religion, science and so on.

People of Leh, Ladakh are very proud to be Indians, and most of it is because of all the patriotic programmes that AIR catered to even the remotest areas of Ladakh in the last few decades.

In Ladakh even the poorest person would have a radio set.

Even when the world enters the digital era, people in Leh, with its 10 KW radio station, have experienced only degradation in the radio from content to reception in the past few years. AIR Leh, installed in 1971, has not been upgradated in terms of power and manpower till now.

Listeners keep approaching Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) to say that after 6 pm they don’t receive Leh radio either on shortwave or on mediumwave. According to them the shortwave reception in the borders areas like Changthang, Nubra and Sham has been worse particularly since November this year.

Engineers at the Leh radio station say that this could be because of the low-powered station.

But how is it worse this year particularly?

Bad reception of Leh radio on the border might lead people to listen to the programmes broadcast by the high-powered stations from across the borders. Moreover Leh is an important place from the strategic point of view having borders with Pakistan in the west and China in the east.

Hence we request you to kindly upgrade the power of this station. Some transmitters are installed at Khaltse, Nubra Diskit and Nyuma, but Nyuma and Nubra Diskit transmitters are yet to be commissioned.

We request you to kindly commission these transmitters and have the AIR Leh relayed through these transmitters. Some Digital Earth Stations may kindly be installed at different zones of Ladakh to uplink AIR Leh to those stations.

After Prasar Bharti went semi-corporate and autonomous, most programme staff and news editors are being appointed on contractual basis.

I had a meeting at AIR Leh on December 26, 2006 with its officials in which I came to know that most of the senior news editors and programme executives have retired and their replacements are still awaited—the radio today is left only with a handful of people which makes it difficult to manage all programmes smoothly.

Replacement of the station director is also awaited. I’m told that due to shortage of staff some programs such as ‘Ladakhi Tapsera’ Delchat that used to be one of the most informative programmes for years had to be cut. We request you to kindly re-start such programs.

We also request you to give Leh a relaxation in appointing editors and programme staff from the region itself who have good knowledge about Ladakh’s distinct Linguistic, social, and cultural conditions.

Government had sanctioned some heating arrangements at the residence of the employees posted at AIR Leh, keeping in view the harsh climatic conditions as prevalent in winter months in Ladakh but these facilities were gradually withdrawn. They are not even entitled to the incentives enjoyed by the employees posted in Kargil and Srinagar even though they serve in a climatic condition worse than Kargil and Srinagar. I request that provision of the heating facility be restored and incentives enjoyed by employees in Kargil and Srinagar be made entitled to the AIR employees posted at Leh also.

Lastly we request you that a team from Prasar Bharti may kindly be sent this winter itself to evaluate the radio reception and the situation under which the radio is functioning.

Yours truly

Tsewang Rigzin, executive councilor for education, art & culture, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh

Copy with similar request for necessary action to:

1. Priyaranjan Das Munshi, Hon’ble Minister for information and broadcasting, government of India.

2. Director General, All India Radio, Akashvani Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi

3. Engineer-in-Chief, All India Radio, Akashvani Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi

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