Glacier burst

Plan afoot to develop multi-hazard early warning system, says govt

Plan afoot to develop multi-hazard early warning system, says govt

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 7

With a glacial lake flood outburst (GLOF) ravaging Uttarakhand’s Chamoli on Sunday, within eight years of a similar glacier breach causing the Kedarnath deluge, the government said it was in the process of developing a multi-hazard early warning system for disaster-risk management.

The plan is to ensure time leads on major natural disasters through study of climate change and related aspects. At present, the Ministry of Earth Sciences can make predictions 24 hours before such events but that’s not enough to mitigate the impact of disasters like flashfloods caused by glacial breaks, cloudbursts and heavy rain.

Government sources said a plan was afoot to develop multi-hazard early warning system for disaster-risk management for “impact-based early warnings of natural disasters through the establishment of a Decision Support System (DSS) based on multiple meteorological disasters namely, tropical cyclones, heavy rainfall, urban floods, fog, air pollution emergencies, heat and cold waves, thunderstorms, lightning, windstorms and flashfloods”. Claims apart, advanced warnings were not in place even in 2013 when a glacial break caused a hydro- metrological disaster in the Mandakini valley of Uttarakhand’s Rudraprayag district in June, 2013. A report that documented the Kedarnath floods said, “Despite claims of advance warning regarding the Kedarnath incident having been communicated to the state government, what was communicated was nothing better than a general forecast predicting heavy rain.”

Technology upgrade need of the hour

At present, the Ministry of Earth Sciences can make predictions 24 hours before such events, but that’s not enough to mitigate the impact of disasters like flashfloods caused by glacial breaks, cloudbursts and heavy rain.

How glacial lakes are formed

Glacial lakes are formed when glaciers retreating on account of climate change leave behind huge ice deposits. This ice creates lakes when it melts. The lakes, dammed by loose soil and rocks, can sometimes become time bombs due to sudden discharge of water.

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