Despite repeated natural calamities during monsoon, Kerala yet to set up flood warning system

Though enough studies hint that Kerala will face annual natural calamities during the monsoon, the state is still dragging its feet in developing an integrated system to generate flood warnings

Published: 22nd October 2021 07:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd October 2021 07:05 PM   |  A+A-

Anitha, a native of Arattukadavu in Vellayani, shifts household items to the terrace of her house which was flooded in heavy rain (Photo | Vincent Pulickal)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even three monsoons after the 2018 mega floods, Kerala is yet to start working on setting up a Flood Warning System (FWS) similar to the one in Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra or Odisha. These states have developed their own well-established flood warning centres with real-time applications. Though enough studies hint that Kerala will have to face annual natural calamities including flash floods during the monsoon seasons, the state is still dragging its feet in developing an integrated system to generate flood warnings for specific geographical areas of the desired locations, which will be routed to authorities to minimise the damage from heavy rain events.

An Integrated Flood Warning System called ‘IFLOWS-Mumbai’ was recently launched in Mumbai by the Maharashtra government. A joint initiative between the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the warning system will be able to relay alerts of possible flood-prone areas anywhere between six to 72 hours in advance. Mumbai was only the second city in the country after Chennai to get this system. Similar systems are being developed for Bengaluru and Kolkata. Odisha had recently launched the Early Warning Dissemination System, the first-of-its-kind technology in India, to simultaneously warn coastal communities and fisherfolk about impending cyclones or tsunamis through siren towers.

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Dr Praveen Sakalya, former Senior Research Fellow at National Centre for Earth Science Studies and Project Scientist at IIT Delhi, said, "Ockhi had exposed the vulnerabilities of the state and stressed the need for establishing a 24x7 warning centre for disasters, with special prominence to ocean-related ones. Though a cyclone warning centre in Thiruvananthapuram was set up, we still don’t have a research and development institute exclusively to cater to the demands of the state," he said.  

“Kerala desperately needs a numerical flood modelling and mapping unit in the state. The unit will have chiefly four components – atmosphere ocean interaction modelling, hydrodynamic modelling, inundation and run-up modelling, and geological modelling. The atmospheric ocean modeling will provide rainfall rate as output after assessing the ocean conditions, while the hydrodynamic modeling would simulate a scenario of flood water moving to various terrains in the event of extreme rainfall," he went on to say.

"The inundation and run-up modelling would simulate a flood situation based on the data received from hydrodynamic modelling, while the geological modelling will provide micro details of the impact of the flood-like landslips or slides by simulating soil absorption characteristics. This system would allow the state government to get the minute details of the impact even before the rain starts and evacuate people from vulnerable areas,” he added.

Dr M G Manoj, a research scientist with the Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research, Cochin University of Science and Technology, said, "This system would definitely help the state in tackling natural calamities. But it will take years to develop a full-fledged system. The system would simulate various scenarios and it has to be cross-checked with real-time scenarios and constant updation of data is required. Further, the geography of various terrains would be subject to change in connection with various development works. So all these changes have to be updated in the system on a regular basis if we want to get accurate data from it,” he said.


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