real time disaster forecast in Northeast India

Centre for disaster forecast
- Isro chairman to inaugurate facility in Umiam next month

Guwahati, June 12: A real-time data centre, capable of issuing warnings ahead of natural disasters, is coming up in the Northeast.

The centre, to be set up at the North Eastern Space Applications Centre at Umiam near Shillong, will pool all data and expertise on disasters and issue warnings as much in advance as possible.

Isro chairman K. Radhakrishnan will inaugurate the Regional Nodal Centre for Disaster Data and Management Facility in North Eastern Region in the second week of July.

The flood early warning system has been around for sometime now, issuing warnings about precise locations at least 8 hours ahead of inundation.

The pinpointed locations with names and maps are issued to the state and district disaster management authorities.

A source said there was need for such a data centre for proper maintenance and updating of relevant data regarding all natural disasters in the Northeast along with a forum of experts in relevant fields from organisations like Indian meteorological department, Central Water Commission, Geological Survey of India and Isro, among others.

“The experts will examine the pooled data in real time and issue warnings about all types of impending disasters to the state and district disaster management authorities, to help them warn people and authorities in the high-risk areas,” the source added.

The source said the North Eastern Council (NEC) had been working on the issue for long and had held discussions with the Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Centre, which had assured full support.

The Centre then wrote to Isro, which, too, extended its support.

A committee was then set up under V. Jayaraman, Satish Dhawan professor at Isro, to work out the details.

“There is a crying need for an integrated approach to disaster management in the northeastern states, which are heavily interdependent on account of geo-climatic compulsions and considerations of terrain and communications network. The proposed regional facility will provide the necessary integration and coordination among experts at the technical level,” the source said.

Scientific institutions in the Northeast like the North Eastern Space Applications Centre, North East Institute of Science and Technology, Geological Survey of India and state remote sensing centres have collected data, which would be useful for the facility, the source added.

The source said minor funding support required for this new facility would not pose much of a problem as Isro and NEC were already funding the North Eastern Space Applications Centre.

The NEC has chalked out a strategy for a regional plan for disaster management in the Northeast in consultation with and concurrence of the National Disaster Management Authority.

“We are confident that this new facility would, in course of time, blossom into a model on which the state/district disaster management authorities could depend on to save lives, property and public assets and which would become worthy of emulation elsewhere in the country,” the source said.

Barring earthquakes of the past that still haunt public memory and apprehensions about a major earthquake in the near future, landslides in the hills of the region frequently disrupt vital lines of communication and cause serious shortage of food and essential items. Floods, too, take a heavy toll every year, while river erosion poses serious problems in several areas. Thunderstorms also cause heavy damage in certain parts of the region.

This facility will collect data about floods, cyclones, river erosion, earthquakes and landslides and other related phenomenon to which the region is highly prone and issue advance warnings whenever a disaster is about to occur.


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