World Radio Day: AIR project for Amritsar still in limbo


Amritsar, February 12

The Central Government has spent more than Rs 20 crore on a project to set up an All India Radio station at Amritsar. It appears that neither the Centre nor the Punjab Government is really interested in the project that it to come up in the border area. The site for the studio has ironically not yet been selected.

“The project is now in its 16th year since the beginning of construction in 2007. This happens to be the longest ignored project in the history of All India Radio,” said Kulwant Singh, an activist. The tower at Gharinda was completed six years after construction began in 2013. Subsequently, the completed structure was inspected by a team from IIT-Roorkee. The inspectors found a tilt in the upper portion. The contractor was asked by Prasar Bharati to correct the tilt. The contractor refused. Meanwhile, a dwarf 100 meter high tower was built close to it. The FM-transmitting antenna was removed from the high tower and installed on the short tower that had a much shorter range of 50 kilometer, 25% when compared to the full-height tower. Downtown areas of both Lahore and Amritsar are at best poorly served by the transmitter installed on the small tower.

In 2020, the uppermost 80 meter long portion was demolished and the demolished elements were left to rust in the open at the base of the tower. For three years, no work has been done on the tower, now reduced to 220 meters from 300 metres

History of Asr radio station

From 1937 to 1947, Amritsar being geographically close to Lahore, was in the local range of All India Radio Lahore. In 1947, the Lahore station became a part of Radio Pakistan network. In 1948, Amritsar became a part of All India Radio Jalandhar-Amritsar. The Amritsar station broadcast on 230.8 meter and Jalandhar on 225.6 meter in the medium-wave band. In 1953, AIR Jalandhar was strengthened with a 50 KW transmitter and Amritsar was shut down permanently. On the request of Partap Singh Kairon, then CM of Punjab, broadcasting equipment was dispatched to Chandigarh (political capital) and Amritsar (financial and industrial capital of Punjab) in 1965.

Amritsar was bombed on the last day of fighting during the 1965 war. As a panic reaction, the government withdrew the equipment from Amritsar and it was taken the Jalandhar, where a Vividh Bharati channel came into operation. Another radio station started working at Chandigarh, broadcasting the Vividh Bharati service in 1965. Lahore is as close to the border as Amritsar is, but no one in Pakistan panicked and nobody took the broadcasting equipment away from Lahore.

Meanwhile, FM radio stations were set up at Patiala and Bathinda in 1990s. Ludhiana started working in 2013. Both Chandigarh and Jalandhar also received FM transmitters. In 2007, work on the construction of a 300 meter (1,000 feet) high transmitting tower started at Gharinda district in Amritsar with a 100 km range.