Tragedy could have been averted, If Doppler radar functioned

Tragedy could have been averted, If Doppler radar functioned

New Delhi: A flash flood triggered by a heavy rainfall near the holy cave shrine in Amarnath has claimed the lives of 15 pilgrims and injured hundreds. Nearly 40 people are still missing. The tragedy could have been averted. A Doppler radar installed at Banihal in Union Territory (UT) of Jammu & Kashmir two years ago is yet to function. With the help of the radar the weather could have been forecast and the tragedy could have been averted.

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The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted a very light rain, but, after the heavy rain that caused a flash flood, it said that high rainfall events occur frequently but authorities call it cloudburst. The Amarnath Yatra flagged off a few days ago was suspended because of the tragedy. Sources said that Doppler radar gives the correct information about the rainfall and clouds.

At Banihal, this Doppler radar is an X-band radar to be installed at a high point to get clearer access to the atmospheric changes in the hilly terrain. The location is under the Defence Geoinformatics Research Establishment (DGRE), that too at a high altitude, away from any village. “That is the reason, there are accessibility issues too. Also, it may have been announced earlier, but the procurement procedure is a lengthy process. It takes time,” said a scientist from IMD. The radar is slated to cover the entire Pir Panjal range and once functional, would also be helpful in predicting better weather forecast for the 270 km Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the main road used by Amarnath Yatris.

IMD's Upper Air Instrumentation Division is working on giving the final touches and currently the testing is going on.

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IMD's Director General (Meteorology) Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said, "the work is going on." Data from the Doppler radar, as it gives a real time assessment, is helpful for the local administration and the disaster management personnel, especially so for the hilly terrain, as the advance information about the ensuing extreme weather event can prevent fatalities.