The department of telecommunications on Friday sent 'severe' disaster emergency alerts to several Bharti Airtel users in Delhi NCR. The alerts, which appeared twice in English and Hindi, were accompanied by a loud siren.

"This is a sample testing message sent through Cell Broadcasting System by Department of Telecommunications, Government of India. Please ignore this message as no action is required from your end. This message has been sent to test Pan-India Emergency Alert System being implemented by National Disaster Management Authority. It aims to enhance public safety and provide timely alerts during emergencies," read the alert prompt with an 'OK' at the bottom.

A similar exercise on Reliance Jio happened in Maharashtra two days ago.

In July, the Department of Telecommunications collaborated with the National Disaster Management Authority to conduct a Cell Broadcast Alert System testing to enhance emergency communication during disasters and ensure the safety and well-being of the citizens.

"In our continuous commitment to the safety of citizens of India and the communities, tests of Cell Broadcast Alert System are being conducted on each Telecom Service Provider. These tests will be performed from time to time in various regions across country to gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency alert broadcasting capabilities of the systems in place, of various Mobile Operators and Cell Broadcast System," the DoT had said.

The Cell Broadcast Alert System allows the government to send critical and time-sensitive messages for disaster management to all mobile devices within a designated geographical area, irrespective of whether the recipients are residents or visitors. This ensures that important emergency information reaches as many people as possible in a timely manner. It is used by government agencies and emergency services to inform the public about potential threats and keep them informed during critical situations.

Cell broadcast is commonly used to deliver emergency alerts, such as severe weather warnings including tsunami, flash flood, earthquake, public safety messages, evacuation notices and other critical information.

"During the testing period, people may receive simulated emergency alerts on their mobile devices. We assure that these alerts are part of the planned testing process and do not indicate an actual emergency," the telecom ministry said, adding that each test alert will be clearly labeled as a 'SAMPLE TESTING MESSAGE' to avoid confusion.

Last month, telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the government will make biometric registration and police verification mandatory for SIM card dealers to curb phone frauds. In order to prevent spam calls and cyber frauds, bulk SIM cards will be discontinued, he said.

"Through the SIM box, a lot of automated calls can be done. Fraudsters buy SIM cards in bulk and make fraudulent calls. After detailed study, we have decided that the bulk connection system will be discontinued and a system for proper business connections will be brought into place," explained Vaishnaw.

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