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Malda to get weather office

June 20: The India Meteorological Department will set up a weather office in Malda with a Doppler radar that would be able to issue forecasts on storms within a radius of 300km, covering all districts in north Bengal.

The new office is likely to be operational in a year.

Once set up, the Malda office would be the second one in the state with a Doppler radar after Calcutta.

D. Pradhan, the deputy director of IMD posted at the eastern regional office in Calcutta, today said: “We have a Doppler radar in Calcutta. With that, it is possible to issue forecast of violent storms within a radius of 300km. Because of the instrument we could come up with a forecast for Aila in the Sunderbans. But no such equipment was installed in north Bengal and we could not forecast the storm that hit Raiganj and other parts of North Dinajpur in 2010.”

Malda does not have a weather station. The Met office at Jalpaiguri issues forecasts for Malda and records temperature in the district.

A senior meteorologist working with the IMD said Doppler radar uses radio wave mechanism. “The radar records formation of cumulonimbus clouds and storms, thunderstorms and cloudbursts. It is an effective instrument to issue forecast of storms and similar weather conditions,” he said.

“The technology is simple. Radio waves are transmitted to get information through similar wave signals to locate a storm and record the wind speed in an area,” he added.

Today, Pradhan was in Jalpaiguri to attend a workshop organised jointly by his department, the state irrigation department and the North Bengal Flood Control Commission (NBFCC) to prepare the employees for the monsoon.

Irrigation department sources said a one-acre plot in Malda had been handed over to the IMD where the new weather office would be constructed.

In today’s workshop, Gautam Dutta, the chief engineer of NBFCC, said a number of districts in north Bengal were prone to flood. “The southwest monsoon has entered the region and we held a preparatory workshop today to apprise our employees of their tasks during the rainy season and in case there is inundation or flood. We had also invited IMD officials to speak on related issues,” Dutta said.

Senior officials of two other central agencies, Damodar Valley Corporation and Central Water Investigation Directorate, Jalpaiguri, who were present at the workshop said they maintained regular contacts with the state government.

Sanjib Bhattacharya, a director of the weather wing of Damodar Valley Corporation, said whenever water was released from the barrages, the state was informed.

An expert from the Central Water Investigation Directorate, Niranjan Bag, said: “Information is passed to the state government and the departments concerned about the weather forecast in north Bengal and rainfall in Bhutan from where several rivers originate and flow through Jalpaiguri.”

Officials of the disaster management department were also present at the workshop.