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Overseas experts to assist on tsunami warning system

India will involve international experts for putting in place a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Bangalore
UPDATED ON JAN 17, 2005 03:20 AM IST

India will involve international experts for putting in place a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean to prevent a repeat of the disaster that struck the southern coasts in December.

The science and technology ministry has convened a meeting in New Delhi January 21 where experts from the US, Canada, Japan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka will discuss technical aspects of the proposed tsunami management system.

"Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US and the Pacific Tsunami Warning System organisation will participate in the meeting to deliberate on the structural and management aspects of the system," Science and Technology Secretary VS Ramamurthy said in Bangalore on Sunday.

Estimated to cost Rs 1.25 billion, the warning system will have three components - earthquake detection, tsunami detection and warning dissemination to government agencies and people in coastal areas.

"Though India has an effective earthquake monitoring system in place, a tsunami warning system in the ocean had not been placed, as tsunamis were not known in this part of the world," Ramamurthy told reporters on the sidelines of a function.

"The system is also expensive."

The Indian tsunami warning system envisages installing the Deep Ocean Assessment Reporting Technology (DART) device at a depth of six km in the middle of the ocean and on the surface, connected to about 20 data buoys in the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The data gathered from DART and the buoys will be relayed to earth stations by satellites for onward transmission and alerts about an impending tsunami.

The ministry will rope in outside agencies having expertise in installing the tsunami equipment in the ocean. The space department will be involved to put in place an effective satellite-based communication system for linking the earth stations.

DART measures pressure in the ocean and its variation at any given point of time. If the height of the ocean increases even by half or one centimetre, data buoys would reflect it and the data would be immediately communicated to authorities concerned.

The tsunami warning system will also have the bathymetry system that will measure shallowness along the coast and the time a tsunami will take to hit the Indian shores.

The seismic fault line, extending from Sumatra to Myanmar, can be detected depending on the intensity of the quake beneath the ocean.

On the basis of bathymetry data, monitoring experts will be able to ascertain which part of the coast and at what speed the tsunami will hit.

"Ever since the tsunami struck the Indian coast, we have been talking to the people who have experienced similar disasters so that we can deploy the system for timely detection at an affordable cost," Ramamurthy said.

"The tsunami warning will be made available to every country in the region. Though we will take the assistance of experts handling the Pacific tsunami warning system, the monitoring will be done by us with a management structure of our own."

Asked what role other countries in the region would have in the tsunami project, Ramamurthy said while India was open to international participation in managing the system, the bulk of the work would be manned by local experts.

"Since not many countries in the region have either the technology or expertise to put in place a tsunami warning system, we have taken the initiative on the strength of our space technology and earthquake monitoring system," he said.

Ramamurthy was here to participate in the 16th Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial lecture on "Hydrogen and other future energy options", organised by the Central Power Research Institute (CPRI).

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