Flood warning sites yet to get govt nod

Flood warning sites yet to get govt nod

The Centre is yet to take action on a proposal to establish 100 flood forecasting sites across the country, including 62 in South India, for the monitoring of rising water levels in rivers and reservoirs.

The country witnessed two of its worst natural disasters when floods ravaged Kedarnath in Uttarakhand last year and this year in Jammu and Kashmir. The events exposed the Central Water Commission’s (CWC) and Met department’s limited ability to forecast floods and communicate weather warnings to the public.

At the beginning of the 12th five year plan, the CWC had proposed that 100 new forecasting sites be established at a cost of Rs 400 crore, mainly in the southern and Himalayan states.

“The proposal is still under government's consideration. There is no financial approval yet,” V D Roy, who heads the flood forecasting division at the CWC, told Deccan Herald.
The CWC’s plan is that 62 stations in South India will monitor water inflow in reservoirs, while the rest will be spread in the Himalayan states, including Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The new rivers to be covered include the Ramganga, the Jhelum and the Chenab.

There are currently 175 flood forecasting sites in the country, out of which 147 are used to check the water levels in rivers, while the rest are for inflow of reservoirs. New stations in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, as per the state governments’ request, would be used to watch the water levels in reservoirs.

The Met department has now set up a technical committee to overhaul the languages used in the forecast to convey the importance of terms like “heavy to very heavy rainfall” to the people, which come across as vague and do not convey much.

“Many meteorological terms are outdated. If the Met warning says there is a possibility of rainfall at one or two places in Maharashtra, it does not convey anything at all to the common man as it is a large state,” said one scientist, who did not want to be identified.
The panel will also review definition of many new weather phenomenon like “heavy rain” and “heat wave” based on current data. The scientist said the purpose of the review was to make it more meaningful.

“We have a problem in forecasting heavy rain events as well as flash floods and urban floods,” said M Rajeevan, a veteran scientist associated with the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

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