ON Monday, for a minute —sometime between 12 and 12:10 pm — a deep siren will be heard across south Mumbai, cutting through the commercial neighbourhoods of Ballard Estate and Nariman Point, to areas like Crawford Market and Fort. You will not miss it, if you are sitting by the steps or getting off a train at either Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Churchagate, or catching the breeze at Marine Drive.
The continuously hooting siren, reminiscent of the mill era, is the last step in the trial phase of the centrally integrated Tsunami Early Warning System for the Indian Ocean Region. While Monday’s drill will be what officials call “the local test”, it will follow the same protocol set by the central government.
The Tsunami Early Warning System Siren will have a radius of three kilometres and is expected to be put on a trial drill on the second and fourth Saturday of every month from November. A tsunami, like an earthquake, is equally devastating, with the movement of fault lines creating geographical shifts, pushing columns of water and bringing huge loss to life and property.
The entire infrastructure is installed and managed out of the meteorology office of the Western Naval Command by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Earth & Sciences (MoES), Government of India, said a press statement from the Indian Navy.
The infrastructure, according to INCOIS, is a real “real-time network of seismic stations, Bottom Pressure Recorders (BPR), tide gauges and 24 X 7 operational warning centre to detect tsunamigenic earthquakes, to monitor tsunamis and provide timely advisories following the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).”
“The Monday trial will be a check on all the systems which are connected on the lines of disaster management. The system is installed strategically at the Joint Operation Centre, also the nodal centre for coastal security,” said a naval spokesperson.
According to officials, in the event of tsnunami, the first reaction would be collection of recordings from the seabed, and a direct relay to the Hyderabad-based INCOIS, where the information will be processed in real time and alerts issued to Met Offices connected to the relevant coastal bed.
The sirens, in an actual event, will always be centrally operated with the central remote functinoning from Hyderabad identifying the epicentre, the evacuation time and expected time of arrival of the first tsunami tide.
In the event of an actual tsunami, the first alert bulletin is expected to be generated in less than ten minutes, with the infrastructure automatically predicting if the natural calamity is expected, giving 10-20 minutes to the nearest sources and an hour for the mainland to react. The reaction time of sources are counted from the minute a siren blares.
Monday’s siren drill though is locally controlled from the meteorology office of Western Naval Command, it will be connected and remotely controlled by INCOIS, Hyderabad, after successful completion of trials, and will only operate in the event of a possible tsunami threat.
“Usually we are looking for a window of 15-20 minutes to react, between which everyone has to respond to the event of an actual possibilty. From Monday, we are going to check the response of hotlines to which the siren is connected i.e. all stakeholders to disaster management concerning the coast,” said an official.