Friday, July 1, 2016

Lest we forget : The deluge and deaths of 30Jun/01Jul2015


STH has covered the events in separate blogs (see 1,2,3)

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

STH stormwatch : Low pressure area forms in Bay of Bengal and updates

Excerpt from IMD All India Weather Inference
'The low pressure area over westcentral Bay of Bengal off Coastal Andhra Pradesh now lies over west central & adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal off south Odisha, north Andhra Pradesh. Associated upper   air   cyclonic   circulation   extends   upto   7.6   Km   above   mean   sea   level   tilting   southwards   with height. It is likely to become well marked low pressure area during next 24 hours.'

We will keep a track of the storm and post updates as required.

Update on 27Jun2016 (evening)
a. The low pressure in the Bay of Bengal persists.
b. The low pressure in the Arabian sea has intensified into a depression and is expected to move westwards.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Friday, June 24, 2016

Project SHAMROCC in Kalimpong

Project SHAMROCC, comprising a team of distinguished scientists from the UK and India was in Kalimpong briefly in the first week of Mar2016, with a view to carry out a feasibility study for landslide prediction in the Darjeeling Himalaya, which is one of the most landslide prone areas in the world.
One of the events that was organized during their visit here was a workshop where Dr David Petley, one of the world's leading scientists on landslide hazards gave a talk 'on 'Managing Landslides - Hazards and Risks in the Himalayas'.
We have finally managed to upload the entire workshop on Youtube in two parts for all to view and learn from.




My deep thanks to the SHAMROCC team for their visit here and to Mr Naren Tamang of KTv, Kalimpong for uploading the video.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Thursday, June 23, 2016

All about the SW Monsoons : Project BoBBLE launches off tomorrow

“The Indian monsoon is notoriously hard to predict. It is a very complicated weather system and the processes are not understood or recorded in science. "
                                        - Prof Prof Adrian Matthews (Univ of East Anglia, UK)
Project BoBBle
The project called the Bay of Bengal Boundary LayerExperiment (BoBBLE) aims for a better understanding of the actual physical processes so as to ultimately create more accurate forecasts.
Researchers from University of East Anglia and Reading (UK) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton along with scientists from four Indian institutions: the Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (CAOS) Bangalore, the Indian National Centre for Climate Information Services (INCOIS) Hyderabad , the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) NOIDA NCR and the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) Chennai, will embark on June 24 from Chennai on the Indian research vessel Oceanographic Research Vessel ORV Sindhu Sadhana.
Simultaneously other researchers from India and the University of Reading will fly out in a British research aircraft to make observations in the atmosphere. The team will spend a month at sea – with data from the 250-mile stretch of international water beamed back to using mobile phone signals daily. Scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) will release underwater robots to monitor how ocean conditions influence monsoon rainfall. Researchers will use this data to create computer models of the ocean to determine how it affects weather systems and rainfall over India. - full article


Highlights of 2nd Long Range Forecast update (02Jun2016) issued by IMD
  • Rainfall over the country as a whole for the 2016 southwest monsoon season (June to September) is most likely to be ABOVE NORMAL (>104% to 110%) of long period average (LPA)
  • Quantitatively, monsoon season rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be 106 % of the long period average with a model error of ±4%.
  • Region wise, the season rainfall is likely to be 108 % of LPA over North, West India, 113 % of LPA over Central India, 113% of LPA over South Peninsula and 94 % of LPA over North East India all with a model error of ± 8 %.
  • The monthly rainfall over the country as whole is likely to be 107% of its LPA during July and 104 % of LPA during August both with a model error of ± 9 %.  
Praful Rao,
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Rainfall data for Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya for May2016 and a sure way to kill our mountains


Much of Darjeeling district went deficient in rainfall in May2016 whereas in Sikkim, there was abundant rain.
Richu bridge in North Sikkim was washed away following the intense rains of 15/16May2016 and that proved to be an unexpected bonanza for hoteliers in Kalimpong with tourists changing their destination from North Sikkim to spend some time in Kalimpong.
Kalimpong was almost bone dry and desperate people started drilling the mountain aquifers to pump out water.
A study done in 2012 by a local NGO, revealed no shortage of surface water for Kalimpong town; the real reason for this shortfall only being mismanagement and corruption.
As such there is no requirement for drilling bore wells in Kalimpong in the first place.
Therefore, STH went on local TV and appealed through the press not to tamper with ground water without a thorough study of our aquifer system and also without plans to recharge drying springs.
So far this appeal has only fallen on deaf ears with the GTA announcing that it plans to dig another 10 bore wells in Darjeeling district.

Photo credit : Chinlop Fudong
Rainfall data collection : Rohan Rao, STH

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Mechanical extraction of water by drilling in Kalimpong : The need for caution (Interview in KalimpongTv)

Water security in the Himalayas will in the future be a humongous problem with documented information that springs which are our life line for water in the mountains, drying up at an alarming rate. Even a cursory check carried out by STH in and around Kalimpong revealed that many perennial springs had become seasonal and many seasonal ones had dried up. The reasons are many, one of them being the changing rainfall patterns which now gives us 5 months of abundant rainfall followed by almost 7 months of drought.
This in turn has led to a severe water crisis in the town with some desperate people turning to drilling for water within the Kalimpong town municipal limits.
STH along with a group of people had voiced our concerns on the drilling because:-
a. The extraction was being done without a proper study of the aquifer system and unregulated extraction of water at the crest could adversely affect downstream communities.
b. There was no mechanism in place to regulate the number of bore wells or the amount of water that could be extracted.
c. There was no word on recharging the aquifer system/springs or the need to protect recharge areas.
d. There was no word on testing the quality of water.

Kalimpong TV asked me for an interview regarding extraction of ground water in Kalimpong. The same is place below (sorry, the interview is mostly in Nepali)



Praful Rao,
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Friday, June 10, 2016

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

STH activities : Sensitizing children on Environmental Issues of the Himalayas


My deep thanks to St Philomena School Kalimpong and also to Dr  PT Bhutia, CCF, North Bengal Forest Division for sending us many beautiful posters on the wild life of India.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Friday, May 27, 2016

STH activities (May2016) : Landslide protection work thru MPLADS and donating tanks to a parched village for water storage


STH had applied for approx Rs 15lakhs from MPLADS for landslide protection work at Bhamey Gaon, a village in Sindebung GP, Kalimpong. The village has been featured in this blog many times. We met Shri Jaswant Singh Hon MP Darjeeling in May 2013 (see here) to seek funds from MPLADS for the work.
Though the project took time to be implemented, river training work (slides 1 & 2 above) to check erosion by a particularly virulent jhora (mountain stream) has been completed at Bhamey Gaon. The work was executed by local contractors under the supervision of BDO Kalimpong -1.
We hope that this work will help mitigate the landslide problem of Sindebung in a small way.

STH had toured areas in Bara Bhalukhop during this parched summer to check water availability in rural areas and had visited Thakuri Gaon (see here)
We had promised the villagers two 500L water storage tanks to store water from the trickle that came in from 2 springs. On 24May2016, we delivered the tanks and a coil of plastic pipes to the village, the tanks will benefit 4 households of that village who will have stored water available for domestic use.

Praful Rao,
Kalimong,
Dist Darjeeling

Comment
Our deep thanks to Shri Jaswant Singh, Hon MP of Darjeeling in 2013, who made the MPLADS work possible.