In a bid to ensure effective reservoir management, the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Pune, has started issuing water level forecasts for all river basins in India from August 1.
Last year, it was alleged that improper dam management aggravated the flood situation in Kerala. Nearly 80 dams, big and small, were on the verge of collapse and this forced the irrigation department to simultaneously open their gates, leading to flooding in several districts, including Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur and Wayanad.
A necessary step to contain damage during disasters
An effective dam management mechanism has become the need of the hour, given the erratic nature of rainfall recorded in recent times. Often, improper and unscientific release of large quantities of water from reservoirs aggravates the flood situation. Incidents triggered by extreme rainfall minus scientific dam management resulted in disasters in Kerala (August 2018), Maharashtra and Karnataka (2019). The move to utilise IMD's expertise in forecasting water volumes alongside rainfall can be a baby step towards dam management in India.
The experts at IMD, Pune, are now making use of real-time rainfall data from its own network of rain gauges to issue forecasts for water levels in river basins.
Under this new application, all 25 river basins and 101 sub-river basins earmarked by the Central Water Commission (CWC) will be covered. CWC identifies river basins for Indus, Mahi, Narmada, Ganga, Krishna, Mahanadi, Cauvery, Tapi, Sabarmati and Godavari.
“We will make use of our forecasts and rainfall information to calculate the total volume of water expected to accumulate in every river basin and sub-river basin on the basis of its area expanse. This information will then be shared with CWC and other authorities, like the department of irrigation. It will be handy and can be decisive while deciding the release of water from time to time, especially during the monsoon,” Pulak Guhathakurta, head, Climate Application and User Interface at Climate Research and Service (CRS) at IMD, Pune, told The Indian Express.
All the water volume data will be provided in Thousand Million Cubic feet (TMC) as per CWC standards, said Guhathakurta. While all the river-basin information would be available on the website of IMD, Pune, officials also plan to share it with authorities concerned of the department of water resources or irrigation, as per requirement.
A senior IMD official said, “The idea is to offer services as per requirement of certain sectors. Had this been available last year, the flooding in Kerala due to release of water from dams could have been avoided.”