NDMA has asked IMD to prepare a proposal for a now-casting system on the lines of the one used for the Amarnath yatra

Wiser from the unfolding human tragedy in Uttarakhand, the National Disaster Management Authority on Wednesday directed the India Meteorological Department to draw up a time bound action plan to make weather monitoring and forecasting for the Char Dham pilgrimage more accurate so that such disasters don’t recur.

Vice-chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, M. Shashidhar Reddy, gave the direction after a meeting with senior IMD officials.

Speaking to The Hindu after the meeting, Mr. Reddy said he has asked IMD to prepare a proposal for a now-casting system for the Char Dham yatra routes on the lines of the one used for the Amarnath yatra.

For Amarnath, IMD issues short-term forecasts every day in the morning for various locations on the two routes to the cave. This is used by the authorities to decide whether the pilgrims should be allowed to proceed or not.

“Char Dam yatra is as important as Amarnath yatra. Lakhs of pilgrims from different parts of the country do the round of the four shrines every year. We have to take care of them.”

Asked about the current forecast capabilities of IMD, Mr. Reddy noted that the IMD did issue warnings about possibilities of heavy to very heavy rains well in advance, but they were generalised and not specific enough.

“We need to have forecasts that precisely tell where it would rain, when and what would be the intensity. For that we need to have now-cast systems that would provide more specific, location and time-wise forecasts. Our country has the expertise and technology to do it. Funding will not be an issue. NDMA will see to that.”

Recalling the manner in which the Central government put together a “world class” tsunami warning system within a short time, he said NDMA will ensure that a similar world class system would be in place soon to tackle other disasters soon.

“The Himalayas posed a big challenge. Today floods, landslides and cloud bursts have wrought havoc. Tomorrow it may be an earthquake. A quake with a magnitude of 8 on the Richter scale anywhere in the Himalayas would create far more destruction. We have to be prepared for it. NDMA is working in that direction,” he said.

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