When riparian nations join hands

The efforts of riparian neighbours to devise a hydrological SOS system are welcome. But warning systems are only as good as the actions they catalyse 
India and China have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on data-sharing on the Brahmaputra river system, which provides warning for flooding during the monsoon. (REUTERS) PREMIUM
India and China have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on data-sharing on the Brahmaputra river system, which provides warning for flooding during the monsoon. (REUTERS)
Updated on Nov 23, 2021 09:15 PM IST
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ByHT Editorial

A two-day meet on the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basins — jointly organised by the World Meteorological Organisation, ministry of earth sciences and India Meteorological Department — began in New Delhi on Monday. Hydrological experts from India’s Central Water Commission and scientists from Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China (a part of the GBM river basin system) are attending the meeting. One of the key aims is developing a hydrological SOS system — one that will share data on reservoirs, rivers, and dam waters round the year — to help mitigate floods, droughts, mudslides, and accelerated erosion. This is important because the areas that fall under the GBM system are flood-prone. Its fragile ecology, varied terrain, and socio-economic-political situation add to the natural challenges.

India and China have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on data-sharing on the Brahmaputra river system, which provides warning for flooding during the monsoon. However, an assessment of the agreement by New Delhi-based think-tank, ORF, says there is a need for a comprehensive, advanced warning system because the existing data-sharing arrangement on hydro meteorological variation is limited, primarily because of the wrong location of the measuring stations on the Brahmaputra. In addition, there have been some issues with data-sharing between the two neighbours. For example, in 2017, China declined to share data with India, saying that the instruments and installations in the measuring stations have been destroyed.

While the efforts of riparian neighbours to devise a holistic hydrological SOS system are welcome ---- especially since the world is witnessing intensified climate-related disasters ---- early warning systems are only as good as the actions they catalyse in the affected nations. Timely, last mile dissemination of information and disaster preparedness are two critical issues. Over the years, India has improved its disaster response system vastly, but, as the increasing numbers of natural calamities show, it has to keep improving and strengthening it so that the socio-economic impacts are minimised.

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Thursday, December 09, 2021