Railways, surface transport to start using weathermans data

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: May 21 2012, 09:21am hrs
After airports, its the turn of the railways and the surface transport sector to use the data of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to streamline operations. The move is expected to ease the pressure on railways during the foggy winter season, besides aiding the smoother movement of goods via road across the country.

IMDs fog and rainfall predictions across the airports had been more than 80% correct. Similar services could be used by railways and the transport department, Shailesh Nayak, secretary, ministry of earth science, told FE. He said the met departmentis in talks with the Indian Railways and the surface transport ministry for customising the short-term weather data for better usage. Thedepartment charges the civil aviation ministry about R40 crore per annum to provide localised weather forecasts at airports.

IMD is currently providing short-term forecasts, including predictions on the expected rainfall pattern,possibility of fog formation and other weather information, for all places where the Indian Premier League (IPL) is being played.

IMD has also been associated with the Amarnath Yatra management committee for long-term weather forecasts on the route to the cave shrine. IMD provides citywise weather forecasts for five days in advance and long- term rainfall for the country.

It has also entered into tie-ups with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the agriculture ministry and state agricultural universities to provide better rainfall forecasts to farmers and dessiminate weather-based agro advisories through its Integrated Agromet Advisory Service.

According to a National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) report on impact assessment and economic benefits of weather and marine services, roughly 24% farmers in over 550 districts are using the Agromet services, while 2 million farmers are availing the mobile SMS service that was started a few years ago.

In most countries, weather and climate are forecast by National Meteorological Services, who also provide weather forecasts tailored to support agriculture, municipal services, disaster management, water resources planning and management, transport, environmental protection, public health and other sectors, said the NCAER report released last year.

An estimated 30 sectors, such as aviation, agriculture, tourism, fishery, forestry, insurance, port and harbour management, commerce and retail trade, depend directly on the weather condition. IMD predicts the southwest monsoon (JuneSeptember), crucial to the economy, on the basis of data gathered from 36 meteorological sub-divisions in the country.