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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

Advance warning system along riverside hangs fire for long time

Saurabh Chauhan , Hindustan Times  Shimla, June 10, 2014
First Published: 10:49 IST(10/6/2014) | Last Updated: 10:53 IST(10/6/2014)

Plan to install an early warning system along the riverside has been gathering dust in government files in Himachal Pradesh.

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Himachal Pradesh is vulnerable for natural disasters, especially floods caused by natural or man-made acts. Hundreds of people have lost their lives in several such incidents in the past. Recent incident at Thalaut in Mandi district in which 25 people were washed away in the Beas River when the waterlevel suddenly rose after Larji dam released surplus water. If there had been a proper warning system, these 25 precious lives could have been saved.

This incident has once again brought to light the ‘burried’ issue of early flood war ning system in the state. In 2011-12, the state disaster management authority (SDMA) had proposed to install early flood warning system, but with passage of time nothing concrete could be done.

In 2011, the state council of science and technology held a conference to chalk out the strategy to deal with flood situation. Experts had stressed on early warning system to warn people on time about the increasing water-level in rivers and other tributaries.

Director of Dehradun Meteorological Centre, Anand Sharma told HT that hilly areas were always susceptible to such disaster. “I have read out about the Mandi incident in which nearly two-dozen people were washed away. Loss of lives could have been reduced, if there had been early warning system in place,” said he.
He said releasing water from dam is a natural thing but there should be a better and proper communication at least up to 5-6 kilometres. “In Uttrakhand, project’s teams war n people located on the riverside before releasing water from the dam,” said he.

A senior environmental expert said that he had attended several seminars in the state. “Since several years, I have been listening about the early warning system in the state, but it is still in the files,” said he, adding that such vulnerable states should have installed such alarm at the earliest.

Recent studies have revealed the formation of several lakes due to fast receding glaciers. Lake burst could cause rise in water-level in the river or tributaries and in the absence of early flood warning system, it triggers the disaster.

Some gover nment officials have said that early war ning system and hooter should be placed not only near the dam but upto 6-7 kilometre.


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