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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Mumbai: I-FLOWS fails to alert BMC of flooding, civic body says system needs fine-tuning

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that the system needs fine-tuning for accurate results.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
Updated: July 19, 2021 9:19:00 am
I-FLOWS fails to alert BMC of flooding, civic body says system needs fine-tuningA car stuck on waterlogged Santacruz–Chembur Link Road in Mumbai on Sunday. (Express photo by Amit Chakravarty)

I-FLOWS, THE city’s flood forecasting and warning system, was unable to assist the civic body during the torrential rainfall between Saturday night and Sunday morning. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that the system needs fine-tuning for accurate results.

Launched in an elaborate online event on June 12 last year, by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Science and Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan, the integrated flood warning system for Mumbai (iFLOWS-Mumbai), was to provide the possible extent of flooding in Mumbai anywhere between 6 and 72 hours in advance and warnings to areas susceptible to flooding across all 24 wards 12 hours in advance.

These warnings can help the local civic body to plan and direct manpower and machinery to specific locations in the city.

However, BMC did not receive any such warning on June 9, July 16-17 or July 17-18 when torrential and devastating rain hit the coastal town.

After the June 9 rain, speaking to the Indian Express, P Velarasu, additional municipal commissioner had said, “It’s good software, but it needs some more work. It is yet to produce actionable alerts. For example, on 9 June, an intense heavy spell was recorded in central Mumbai. The expectations from the system were that it relays information about locations that are expected to get heavy rainfall in say next 3-6 hours. Based on that information along with the topography, land contours, high tide, we will know the level of inundation. That type of detailing is not there.”

IFLOWS is yet to be handed over to the BMC and is run by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Under the system, IMD can issue flood warning bulletins for individual spots in the city dividing them into categories ranging from low probability (less than 1-ft depth), moderate (1-2ft depth), high (2-3ft depth) and very high (over 3-ft depth).
BMC officials said that the accuracy of actionable advanced warnings using the system needs to be validated with ward units.

“The system is not fully functional yet and there are trials run on the system. It is being used on an experimental basis.

The system’s results are not accurate as yet. It did not provide any help or alert last night (Saturday night),” said Mahesh Narvekar, chief officer, BMC’s disaster management unit.

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