Guwahati, May 5: The North Eastern Council has approached some of the country’s leading names in space research, weather forecasting and disaster management to put in place an storm advanced warning system (SAWS) in four districts of Assam within a month to avoid a repeat of the April 30 Dhubri boat tragedy.
P.P. Shrivastav, ember, NEC, told this correspondent here today that he has got in touch with Isro, North Eastern Space Applications Centre, the India meteorological department, the Inland Waterways Authority of India and the State Disaster Management Authority, Assam, to help set up the advance warning systems as a pilot project at Saikhowaghat, Majuli, Guwahati and Dhubri, areas having high density river traffic.
The State Disaster Management Authority, which will monitor the project, is convening a meet here on Tuesday along with the departments of Inland Water Transport and water resources to chalk out a roadmap because such projects have both technical and administrative aspect without which it will not yield the desired result.
The SAWS has been planned along the lines of cyclone warning system along coastal areas. But unlike weather forecasting which is usually for the next 12, 24, 48 hours, it will be nowcasting, which is for the next 30 minutes to two hours as storms and cyclones strike suddenly.
He said the warning would be based on satellite and radar inputs which will be examined and analysed by experts and that the ISRO radar in Cherrapunjee would help cover Guwahati and Dhubri. The NEC has got in touch with the Planning Commission for necessary budgetary support.
“I have had talks with these organisations over the past three days with the request of doing something on the Brahmaputra. The response has been very encouraging. ASDMA top brass V.K. Pipersenia and Atul Chaturvedi have been equally keen to get SAWS started as soon as possible. Tuesday’s meeting will decide, among others, how and to whom the warning will be issued. We hope to make SAWS operational on a trial basis within a month,” Shrivastav said.
Like the rising death toll in floods led to the setting up of the successful 24x7 Flood Early Warning System in 2009, the Dhubri tragedy has triggered the move for SAWS, Shrivastav admitted. The death toll in the Dhubri mishap mounted to 38 today with scores still missing.
While the Shillong-based NEC, constituted in 1971, is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the region, comprising eight states, the NESAC, a society registered under the Meghalaya Societies Registration Act, 1983, is a joint initiative of the Department of Space and the NEC to help the region’s development by providing the advanced space technology support.
The SAWS has being interpreted as a move in the right direction because a sizeable section of the state’s population is dependent on river transport for commuting.
Even chief minister Tarun Gogoi had said at the recent DC/SP review meet that Dispur needs to develop river transport in a big way.
However, sources said, since laxity in enforcement has become almost chronic in the state, Dispur would have to put in place a regulatory authority to manage river traffic. They feel the transport department needs to have a regulatory bodies similar to that of the DGCA and AAI, which regulates flights, to monitor service providers, vessels and ferries. The IWT operates 87 ferry services in the state. There are private parties in the fray as well. “All these need to be brought under one professional regulatory authority. Besides, there needs to be weather watch stations at all ghats, mandatory annual safety audits of vessels/ferries, registration number displayed on ferries/vessels and introduction of passenger manifest,” one of them said. The IWT has moved Dispur for more manpower to strengthen its enforcement cell.