No timely ‘red alerts’ of heavy rainfall, Stalin urges Centre to upgrade IMD’s technology

Stalin said the state government relied substantially on alerts issued by IMD's Regional Meteorological Centre in Chennai for gearing up the administration to handle impending disaster situations arising out of intense rainfall

Tamil Nadu rains
On the day Chennai had witnessed heavy rainfall, the bulletins issued by the India Meteorological Department-Regional Meteorological Centres bulletins had predicted only "light to moderate rain" at isolated places in Chennai and nearby districts for 1-2 hours.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Saturday (January 1) raised an extremely “important” issue with the Union government about the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) not being able to provide timely weather forecasts and “red alert situations” in advance to allow the state to prepare in advance.

In a letter to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the TN CM Stalin referred to the heavy rains that had hit the state on December 30 and 31 and took everyone by surprise. Therefore, he asked the Union government to improve the technology and augment the capacity of the Regional Meteorological Centre in Chennai to ensure the state is provided with timely weather forecasts.

In his letter, Stalin quoted extensively from India Meteorological Department-Regional Meteorological Centres bulletins of that day. “By the time an orange alert was issued at 4.15 pm that day, there was a heavy downpour already in Chennai and three nearby districts, which led to inundation of many places and total disruption of traffic,” he said.

While rains started lashing Chennai and its suburbs from afternoon and lasted till late night, the CM said the bulletin issued at noon had only predicted “light to moderate showers” in some areas of the city and an alert released at 3.40 pm was about “light to moderate rain” at isolated places in Chennai and nearby districts for 1-2 hours.

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He pointed out that the state government relied substantially on alerts issued by IMD’s Regional Meteorological Centre in Chennai for gearing up the administration to handle impending disaster situations arising out of intense rainfall, Stalin said.

“A timely alert from IMD helps the state and district administration to take up pre-emptive efforts to ensure the safety of people. We have, however, noted that IMD is unable to predict red alert situation sufficiently in advance giving hardly any time, he said, adding that this was an “important issue”. It has a bearing on the ability of the state government to respond to red alert rainfall situations, he said.

Further Stalin said that the shortcoming in IMD’s capability to “provide accurate real time rainfall forecasting on instances like this is often preventing the state and district administration to take up timely mobilisation of emergency management system”.

And this results in total disruption of normal life, movement of health care support systems and also causes loss of life and damage to critical infrastructure, the TN CM added. These kind of incidences proved that additional investments in advanced weather prediction mechanism and upgradation of technology being used in the IMD have to be made, he said.

“In this regard, I request the Government of India to do the needful to enhance the capacity of IMD, Chennai to enable it to make predictions of high alert situations earlier and notify the same to the state government well in advance,” concluded Stalin.

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