MoD did not grant security clearance as these radars were ‘Made in China’
Call it bureaucratic wisdom, the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has decided to shift weather radars meant for coastal areas to inland locations as its three-year-long effort failed to seek security clearance from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as these radars are ‘Made in China.’
It was in 2010 that the MoES procured four Doppler Weather Radars (DWR) of Chinese origin for Mumbai, Goa, Paradip (Odisha) and Karaikal (Puducherry). But these systems worth crores of rupees are lying idle as the MoD has refused to give clearance for strategic locations in Goa, Paradip and Karaikal as they have to be installed close to defence areas and other strategic establishments.
“DWRs commissioning is put on hold at Goa, Paradip and Karaikal for want of clearances from the Ministry of Defence that is under the consideration of the Committee of Secretaries (CoS),” the Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences told Parliament in December last.
And at the CoS’ recent meeting, top bureaucrats decided in favour of the MoD and asked the MoES to relocate these radars “away from the defence areas within two months without compromising with the objective for which these radars were acquired.”
At the meeting, MoES Secretary Shailesh Nayak said these radars were meant for installation in coastal areas that have the maximum disaster risk. “The MoES is shifting these radars to other inland locations with one of such radars having already shifted to Bhopal,” the minutes of the meeting said.
After tsunami caused widespread disaster in 2004, the government decided to augment and improve its weather forecasting paraphernalia to help the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture to tackle the impacts of the adverse and extreme weather phenomena.
Projects worth crores of rupees were cleared to acquire latest technology on weather forecasting. And these hi-tech Doppler radars, known for their capabilities to measure the velocity of the particles inside the weather system and estimated to be worth over Rs.5 crore per system, were procured. However, it was the China-made aspect that sabotaged the coastal weather upgrade plan. Now the MoES is reportedly procuring new such radars from Germany.
The MoES faced similar problems for radar installations at Jaipur, Bhuj, Lucknow, Patiala, Mohanbari (Assam), Kochi and Delhi as they were also situated close to defence and other strategic establishments. As the MoD refused to budge, the Prime Minister’s Office had to intervene to settle the issue.