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Saving lives in time

Stopping natural calamities may not be possible, but the loss of life and economic losses can be mitigated with the development of an early warning system. This is what an Indo-Norwegian collaborative project is trying to address.

An Indo-Norwegian collaborative project, consisting of the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) and the Indian Department of Science and Technology, is working to build the capacity of Indian institutions regarding managing natural challenges, such as floods and landslides caused by heavy rainfall.

As a part of the project, automated rain gauge stations have been set up at four places in India - in Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu and in Uttarakhand, These have been installed on an experimental basis. A threshold value of precipitation has been determined in these rain gauge systems. If the precipitation exceeds the threshold, an SMS is sent automatically to 10 relevant people whose numbers are saved in the system. The authorities can then issue alert notices and warn people against possible landslide events.

Photo: Rajinder K Bhasin, NGI.

The system functioning got validated in the heavy precipitation event last week, in Dehradun, Uttarakahnd when the people linked to the system were able to receive messages about rainfall exceeding the threshold value. Though this was just the beginning of what the collaboration hopes to be an extremely effective tool, its success gave us hope that when implemented completely, it will show great results.

As the Southwest Monsoon is now active over great parts of India and the excessive rainfall is leading to floods and landslides in different parts of the country, we hope that this Indo-Norwegian partnership can lead to preventing loss of lives in the future.