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State flood hazard atlas being updated

By Ajit Patowary

GUWAHATI, March 1 - The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) is now updating the first ever flood hazard atlas it has prepared with the help of the Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC). The Authority has also developed an early flood warning system covering all the districts of the State.

According to Nandita Hazarika, State Project Officer of ASDMA, the NRSC, an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) wing, had the data for ten years, since 2000 AD, to start work on the atlas. These data were used to prepare the flood hazard atlas initially, dividing each of the districts into three categories � severely affected, moderately affected and least affected � in terms of flood hazard.

Ground footing for the purpose was done with the involvement of the district authorities. Inputs from the districts were incorporated to give the atlas its final shape. The original atlas was released in 2011.

The NRSC is now incorporating the flood hazard-related data of the State since the past five years for the purpose of updating the atlas. The comments of the district authorities on the latest situation to give a final shape to the updated atlas are also awaited, Hazarika said.

The atlas is expected to help in planning matters, development of infrastructure and deployment of resources during the flood season.

Hazarika said that following the 2008 devastating Lakhimpur flood, the absence of an early flood warning system was felt. Involving all the universities of the State, India Meteorology Department (IMD), Central Water Commission (CWC), State Water Resource Department (WRD), North East Space Application Centre (NESAC), Assam Remote Sensing Application Centre (ARSAC) and the erstwhile Disaster Management Department of the State, an effort was made to develop the early flood warning system. This effort was aimed at issuing warnings 12 to 17 hours ahead of a impending disaster.

Initially, NESAC developed a flood warning model with inputs from IMD, CWC and the WRD. It was first implemented in Dhemaji district on an experimental basis. Now the system covers the entire State with the capacity to forecast floods in their actual magnitude, location and time of occurrence. However, its accuracy is still in the range of 70 to 75 per cent. Last year, the ASDMA started making flood alerts public on this system, Hazarika said.

This system has been developed to help timely evacuation of people of the likely affected areas in advance.

On top of all these, the ASDMA has also completed critical infrastructure mapping, which includes 18 different utilities like healthcare set-ups, probable shelters, raised platforms, helipads, food and civil supply godowns, police stations, fire service stations, water supply schemes of the PHEDs, veterinary hospitals, places of public congregation, all important Government buildings, ASTC bus stands, ferryghats, petrol pumps etc with the application of the GIS system.

This mapping is done for helping decision making during any emergency situation. It is being overlayed in the GIS web portal and with the security clearance it is expected that it could be launched shortly, Hazarika said.

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