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States


Bengal can end landslide casualty with Sikkim like real-time warning system: Expert

Anuradha Dutta
Gangtok, Sep 23 (UNI) Real-time landslide warning system can save lives and property in West Bengal's northern region, which suffers multiple landslides, as it did in the flood-ravaged Idukki district of Kerala.
According to Dr Uma Sudheer of Amrita University, spearheading the installation of the second landslide warning system in Chandmari village here, the Kerala flood that made headlines world over was also accompanied by landslides that added to the number of casualties.
Dr Sudhir, the director of the Centre for Wireless & Application at Amrita University, said the first real-time warning system installed at Munnar in the Idukki district of Kerala helped save lives in the region with its early warnings.
"We issued the first warning in the last week of July for Idukki district and more specific warning was given in early August, 24 hours ahead of the slides. When the landslides eventually happened, lives were saved as inhabitants were evacuated based on our predictions,. " Dr Sudhir said.
Developed at Amrita University's landslide laboratory, the system was installed in 2009 in Munnar, and since then it has successfully issued landslide warnings at least 24 hours ahead of the occurrences.
Taking note of the success of this warning system, installation of a similar system was decided at the Sikkim-Darjeeling belt, funded by the ministry of earth sciences.
Dr Sudhir said as the warning system installed here is custom developed for Himalayan geology, and it can be very effective in issuing successful landslide warnings in North Bengal as Sikkim and North Bengal have similar geological conditions, though a separate system will need to be developed based on the geological and hydrological nature of the hills of North Bengal.
Several location in the hilly terrains of India are under consideration for the real-time landslide warning system by the ministry of earth sciences, she said and added her team has already surveyed the landslide hotspots of Uttarakhand.
Dr Sudhir said the system is far more reliable than the current warning systems in use as it takes into account rainfall threshold, moisture, pore-pressure and vibrations to issue the warnings.
The second installation of the system at Chandmari began in 2013 and is now complete to issue warnings.
As many as 200 sensors in 12 locations have been installed covering an area 150 acres, she informed.
"The system collects real-time, continuous data from the sensors, performs basic analysis at the Field Management Centre located at the site, and relays to Data Management Centre at Amrita University, " Dr Sudhir explained.
Dr Sudhir said while the Centre provided Rs 5 crore for the installation of the system, the cost of its maintenance remains a major worry.
She also stressed on the need to adopt the emerging technologies and multi-disciplinary labs for landslide warnings.
UNI AND SJC RN
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