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Mumbai civic body, weather bureau to join forces to make a rain warning system

KJ Ramesh, director general, India Meteorological Department said there is a need for improved planning to prevent such disasters.

mumbai Updated: Sep 01, 2017 13:01 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Several roads developed potholes and according to citizens more roads were pockmared as the city recovered from Tuesday’s breakdown.(Praful Gangurde/HT)

After Tuesday’s downpour paralysed Mumbai, the weather bureau said they will work with the BMC to identify flood-prone areas in the city and create a weather warning system for large cities.

A day after the city recorded its highest 24-hour August rain, KJ Ramesh, director general, India Meteorological Department (IMD) told HT that there is a need for improved planning to prevent such disasters. “Rather than blaming the system, we need to treat such emergencies as a lesson learnt for the future,” he said. “We intend to issue detailed forecasts for each city about how any extremely heavy (above 200mm) rainfall can impact, which is called impact based forecasting.”

The IMD chief said they will provide risk-based warnings. “We will interpret focused weather models and issue warnings for low lying areas susceptible to water logging, lifeline infrastructure such as railway stations, trains, multistoried buildings, airports, hospitals, ports etc,” explained Ramesh adding, “We will assess the impact and provide more value added information for a faster response system.”

He added that IMD had already begun discussions with BMC and after the recent flood, the process will be expedited. “This activity will be done over the next two years but its impact will be reflected from next monsoon itself. Mumbai will be selected as a model city where such approaches will be tested,” he said.

HT reported on Thursday that a red alert had been issued by IMD warning rainfall in north Konkan would surpass 200mm mark but BMC’s disaster management cell said Mumbai was not included in the forecast.

New Delhi based policy research organisation, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), had developed the ‘Maharashtra State Action Plan for Climate Change’ which was submitted to the state government in 2013. However, TERI officials said it was yet to be adopted. The action plan had indicated the possibility of increase in rainfall in the Konkan region including change in the number of rainy days, which could lead to the occurrence of intense rainfall events. It had also identified areas in the city that get flooded due to heavy rains.

“The city of Mumbai falls under the coastal belt characterised by high rainfall. At the same time the natural soil strata of the region is laterite (rich in aluminum and iron). This soil type encourages good drainage of water,” said Dr Anjali Parasnis, associate director, TERI Western Regional Centre. “However due to urbanisation, we have now covered most of the open surfaces with material like tar and concrete, not allowing the water to drain out. Moreover, the original areas between islands are reclaimed resulting in shallow low lying stretches.”

She added that under such circumstances, urban planning and infrastructure plays an important role. “Navi Mumbai, a well-developed twin city of Mumbai is a classic example,” she said. “In spite of receiving similar rainfall, the water logging is avoided due to good city planning, which is a case study worth considering.”

First Published: Sep 01, 2017 13:01 IST