Now, WhatsApp messages, mobile alerts to warn about landslides to residents of 3 villages in West Bengal

By: | Published: October 24, 2018 4:41 PM

From now on, whatsapp messages and sirens on mobile phone apps will alert inhabitants of three most landslide-prone villages of the country, at the slightest signals of landslides.

whatsapp messages, india news, Geological Survey of India, geological survey indiaThe L-EWS is connected to mobile apps for fast dissemination of the alert to the poeple. 9Reuters)

From now on, whatsapp messages and sirens on mobile phone apps will alert inhabitants of three most landslide-prone villages of the country, at the slightest signals of landslides. The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has recently developed a Landslide Early Warning System (L-EWS) for the people of Giddapahar, Paglajhora and 14th Mile villages in Kurseong block of Darjeeling District in association with the district administration of West Bengal government, GSI Director Ashish Nath said.

The L-EWS is connected to mobile apps for fast dissemination of the alert to the poeple. The system installed by the GSI in select villages, mostly in Kurseong block, has already started working, the director said. “After the immense loss of life and property in these three villages since 2003 mainly because of landslides, we decided to install the system here first,” he said.

Studying the Kurseong area utilising the modern InSAR technology by placing five corner reflectors and rainfall threshold analysis for landslide initiation resulted in the development of the people-centric L-EWS, he said. Earlier, in case of landslides triggered by rainfall, the GSI used to alert the administration and then it used to be passed on to the local population.

“But we felt there must be a change and we should alert the possible victims as soon as there is a trigger. We believe, this will help us in saving more lives,” he said. Eighteen such zones have been marked as extremely vulnerable to landslides and the three Darjeeling villages, where the warning system has been installed were on top of the chart, he stated. Elaborating about the system, he said that it is ideal for warning landslides as spatio-temporal forecasting is extremely difficult, particularly from a remote area.

The prediction of the occurrences of landslides both in space and time does not happen because most of the key elements like risk knowledge, monitoring, analysis, warning generation, dissemination and communication of warning and preparedness for timely response do not work in sync, Nath said. “The difficulties are coupled with the variability in the intensity of trigger thus making forecasting quite difficult for the purpose of alerting the community at risk.

So the need of putting community-based landslide warning system was felt,” he said. Incidentally, in 2016, the Landslide Studies Division of Geohazards Research and Management (GHRM) Centre, GSI, Kolkata had studied this landslide zone in order to develop an early warning system. In fact, before the deployment of the system, a few rounds of community landslide awareness programme, including mock-drills, were also conducted, Nath said. A billboard showing details of landslide warning has been also erected in two places one at Giddapahar and another at Paglajhora to spread awareness among the people.

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