Tuesday, October 13, 2015

At the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit (SMDS) IV, (07-09)Oct2015 at Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh)

The SMDSs are an annual event organized by IMI.
This year the main theme for SMDS IV held at Itanagar on the 07/08/09 of Oct2015 and  organized by SDFA, Arunachal Pradesh was Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), the other thematic sessions being Mountain Agriculture and Forests. The Anchor for the DRR theme for SMDS IV was Dr RS Tolia, founding President of IMI.
SMDS IV was a mammoth affair with almost 250 delegates from all the 11 eleven mountain states plus the 2 hill districts of W. Bengal and Assam and also representatives from Bhutan and Nepal attending the seminar. In this melee were gov The gathering also drew a whole galaxy of experts on forests, agriculture, DRR and also from UNDP and ICIMOD as well as legislators, government officials and NGOs.

Conclusions of the DRR thematic session of SMDS IV:-

         a. Long term (5 years)
  • Improvement of observational networks, collecting more scientific data on environmental mountains - on glaciers, climate change, rainfall and so on and better management of existing data.
  • To analyze and convert this data into practical and understandable hazard risk  and vulnerability assessments which can be  used by practioners.
  • Much stronger emphasis on action planning for risk reduction and response - starting from  the lowest possible levels (village level upwards). Planning for recovery from disasters also needs much more attention.
  • Capacity building at the lowest levels and conversion of policy into action at the grass roots.
  • Requirement to building back better in order reduce risk and a national policy on building on slopes.

    b. Short term (one year)
  • 100% coverage of district disaster management plans in all mountain states.
  • Setting up of one model district disaster management authority in each of the 11 mountain states.
  • Retrofitting of one school and one hospital in each mountain state.

    Praful Rao,
    Dist Darjeeling

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rainfall data Darjeeling-Sikkim Sep2015 and monsoon withdrawal.

Sep2015 again saw us getting deficient rainfall even though Kurseong (as always) had higher than normal precipitation.
What is worrisome is the peaking of rainfall (see graph above) on certain dates, which seems to be the established trend in our rainfall pattern now.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

STH Activities : Working with Children (21Sep2015)

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

STH Blog Hacked?

This morning while checking this blog, I came across many posts where the image especially of storm systems had been removed and replaced with


I cannot understand the mindset of prankster or hacker who gets thrills out of destroying data which would help us understand the weather systems in this region better and thereby saves lives. Unfortunately I may not be able to replace the data/image since I normally delete old files after updating the blog.
While I will have to change this practice, may I appeal to whoever disfigured the STH blog to desist from further such action?

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Contact Program on 'Landslide Disasters' :18/19Sep2015 at Darjeeling

1. The meeting was Chaired by Shri Suresh Kr (IAS), Principal Secretary, Disaster Management Dept, Govt of W.B, with Shri Ikhlaque Islam, WBCS (Exe), Jt Secretary and Nodal Officer Disaster Management Dept, Govt of W Bengal also present.
Geological Survey of India (GSI) which is the nodal body looking after landslides in India  and was co-hosting the event was represented by :-
i. Shri M Raju, Addnl Dir General and HoD Eastern Region, Kolkata
ii. Shri JN Das, Dy Director, GSI
iii. Shri BM Gairola, Dir NHIM Div, New Delhi
iv. Shri M Ghatak, Superintendant Geologist
v. Shri S Ghosh, Superintendant Geologist, GHRM, Central HQ, Kolkata
vi. Shri Jaiswal, Geologist, GHRM, Central HQ, Kolkata
vii. Shri T Ghosal, Geologist, ER Kolkata
2. Significant takeaways from the meeting were :-
a. GSI have confirmed that a geo-technical investigation of the Chibo- Pashyor landslides would be undertaken. This will give us hard scientific data on the state of the landslides in that area and pave the means to technical intervention and funding to stabilize the slopes.
b. Rainfall threshold based forecasting/prediction of landslides which had been tested successfully in the Nilgiris would also be brought into Darjeeling district on a trial basis.
c. Disaster Management Dept, Govt of W B would look into making documentary films in Nepali for landslide awareness.
d. Disaster Management Dept, Govt of W B, would take up the unserviceability of  large number of AWS stations with IMD. AWS station in Darjeeling, Gangtok and Siliguri are defective for more than a year now.
3. It was a pity there was no representation of officials from the GTA during the meeting since the Darjeeling/ Sikkim Himalaya are amongst the most landslide prone areas in the country and interacting with the experts at Darjeeling on 18/19Sep2015 would have been a tremendous opportunity for them to be exposed to new technology and techniques to combat a disaster form which is now the most serious environment challenge for us living in these mountains.
Further more since so many high ranking GSI officials were available for 2 days in Darjeeling, we could have asked them for technical investigation of the many major landslides in the Darjeeling hills

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

STH Stormwatch : The storm in Bay of Bengal Intensifies into a Well Marked Low

Link to JTWC

Update from IMD on 16Sep2015 (evening)

"The well marked low pressure area over south Odisha and neighbourhood has concentrated into a Depression at 1130 hours IST of today, the 16th September over south Odisha & neighbourhood and now lay centred at 1430 hours IST of today near Lat.20.3°N and Long. 83.0°E, about 40kms northwest of Titlagarh and about 160kms southeast of
Raipur. It is likely to move west ­northwestwards during next 24 hours."

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Saturday, September 12, 2015

STH stormwatch : Reporting a low pressure area in the Bay of Bengal (12Sep2015)

Excerpt from the Midday All India Weather Inference of IMD of 12Sep2015

'Under the influence of the upper air cyclonic circulation over west central Bay of Bengal, a low pressure area has formed over west central and adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal.'

Praful Rao,

STH activities : Working with children - 07Sep2015

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Rainfall data of Darjeeling and Sikkim : Aug 2015

Gangtok, Darjeeling and Kalimpong had deficient rainfall in Aug2015 whereas Kurseong and Mangan (N Sikkim) had an excess in rainfall.
Excess rainfall seen in S Bengal was the aftermath of Cyclone Komen which formed in the Bay, end of July2015. No other significant system affecting our region formed in the Bay of Bengal in Aug2015.
There were no major landslides or fatal landslides in Darjeeling and Sikkim.

Praful Rao,
Darjeeling district

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Report on the DRR Seminar held at Kaliimpong on 17Aug2015

The workshop was organized by Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI), a platform of diverse stakeholders working on issues pertinent to the Indian mountains. Darjeeling Mountain Initiative (DMI) a chapter of the IMI in Darjeeling district, (of which STH is a member) was the local host for this workshop. This workshop is a curtain raiser to the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit (SMDS) IV (Arunachal Pradesh) in October 2015.

Participants from Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand, FAO and UNDP as well as civil society representatives of the region gathered in Kalimpong to deliberate in the workshop.Dr RS Tolia, President IMI, MP Sikkim Mr. P.D. Rai and MLA, Darjeeling Mr. Trilok Dewan steered the discussions of the meeting. The panel of experts were- Dr Ajit Tyagi, former Director General of India Meteorology Department Pune, Dr Malay Mukul, Department of Earth Sciences, IIT Mumbai, Dr Chandan Ghosh, GeoHazard Dept, National Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi and Dr Sunil De, Department of Geography, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong. 

Some of the key outputs of the discussions of the workshop were:

1.      Rainfall: There are huge information gaps in rainfall maps in the mountains. Moreover the monsoon prediction is more plain area based and there is no prediction on impact of monsoons in the mountains. Early warning systems for disaster in the mountains is necessary
2.      Earth Quakes: The Himalayan states are highly vulnerable to high intensity earthquakes and places like Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and Darjeeling are in high-risk zones. More work on Earthquakes need to be done for other states of Northeast India.
3.      Infrastructure: For rural and urban infrastructure which is rapidly spreading in the mountains, currently there are sophisticated and simple non-invasive techniques to test buildings for earthquake resistance. Additionally construction of roads, which is a key indicator of development in the mountains, needs to be reviewed thoroughly. Here too there are less stress causing, relatively low cost and simple methods that can be adopted with more engineering science.
4.      Landslides: Detail maps for landslides are available for some sites and these need to be prepared across all scales from a landscape level to site level and even to a households level. These need to be made available to decision makers in different government sectors so that planning is disaster sensitive.
5.      The bottom line is that mountains are highly vulnerable to disasters and so a paradigm shift in managing disasters is necessary from the current relief centric to more preparedness and risk reduction centric pathways.
6.      IMI would coordinate and approach with the Governments of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland to take the panel of experts to these states and interact with Government Department making them aware about impending disasters in the mountain states.
7.      A similar action was identified as being absolutely necessary for the Darjeeling to make the various sectors of the government aware about the vulnerability of Darjeeling to disasters.
8.      The meeting agreed that coordination between the different departments of the government is necessary to make disaster risk reduction in the mountains more effective. As of now this cross-sectoral approach does not exist in most mountain states.
9.      IMI with its local chapter Darjeeling Mountain Initiative would be an enabler in coordinating with the GTA to come up with a Darjeeling Hills specific Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies as per the need identified by the Hon MLA, Darjeeling. Additionally an assessment of various state-level Disaster Management Plans was also deemed necessary to address mountain specific needs for disaster risk reduction.
10.  The proceedings of the meeting are further being collated and will feed into a DRR paper to be finalised in the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit to be held in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh in October 2015. 

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling