An estimated 40-50 highrise and redevelopment projects in south and central Mumbai are stuck as the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has capped their vertical growth at 77 metres (about 22 floors). The reason: they fall within a 10-km radius of the IMD’s Doppler Radar, and could, therefore, obstruct its functioning.
Installed atop the 18-storey Archana building in Colaba’s Navy Nagar area in South Mumbai, the Doppler Radar is expected to predict weather patterns and is capable of weather surveillance up to 500 km. The Maharashtra government decided to set up the radar after the July 2005 deluge.
Two years ago, a no-objection certificate from the IMD was made mandatory for highrise buildings within a radius of 10 km around the Doppler Radar, which covers nearly all of South and Central Mumbai, including prime real estate hubs of Napean Sea Road, Girgaum, Mazgaon, Wadala, Worli, Mahalaxmi, Dharavi and Mohammed Ali Road.
“We had asked the civic body and state government to provide us with alternate sites for installing the Doppler Radar so that highrises in south Mumbai don’t obstruct its functioning. We were provided other alternatives like open plots and existing structures of various government agencies, but none of those buildings could have sustained the weight of the 15-tonne Doppler Radar. We were then forced to install it at the existing site. At present, the Doppler Radar is on the 16th floor, so we cannot allow buildings taller than 16 floors as it obstructs the functioning of the radar,” said S G Kamble, Director of Doppler Weather Radar, IMD.
He added that the IMD was provided a site atop a hill in Aarey Colony, but the radar could not be transported to the spot since there was no access road.
According to Kamble, buildings beyond the permitted height could obstruct the radar beam which travels up to 500 km and studies cloud patterns and behaviour. The radar’s beam cannot penetrate a building in its path, leading to loss of data, he said.