Timely weather alerts could have saved thousands

Presence of an effective communication dissemination system would have lessened the magnitude of the disaster caused in Uttarakhand.

The Meteorological Centre, Dehradun had alerted various departments of the state government about the possibility of heavy rains and landslides in the state, 48 hours prior to the intervening night of June 16 and 17 that brought widespread damage. However, it now emerges the alert failed to percolate down to the masses at large, worsening the magnitude of the damage, especially in the Char Dham Yatra route.

"The intensity of the devastation could have been much lesser had there been an effective communication system in place to disseminate our weather alert to the masses. A strong network of community FM radios would have played a radical role in alerting the locals as well as the tourists/pilgrims," Anand Sharma, head of meteorological center, Dehradun, told Hindustan Times on Thursday.

Uttarakhand faced the worst hit of rains from the night of June 16 and major damages were caused on June 17 in the hills. The Met Center had issued alerts to various governmental departments two days in advance. Sharma said that establishing an all-weather communication system was the need of the hour. Currently, only three community radios are reportedly functional in Uttarakhand.

"Setting up of a large number of community FM radios can avert such a disaster in future. Also, distribution of low-cost and low-maintenance technologies like tone alert hand-winding radios especially in the rural areas, will ensure that weather alerts reach to the public in time, averting such disasters," he concluded.


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