Friday, April 29, 2011

STH activities : Successes and a failure

  • Establishing an SMS based early warning system in Darjeeling district
    In the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya most landslides occur during the monsoons and are rain induced. So if we are able to alert communities about periods of prolonged or intense rainfall which may trigger landslides, lives would be saved.
    STH first tried SMS alerts in May2009 during cyclone AILA and right thru the monsoons of 2010, thanks to the initiative of India Meteorological Dept (see here) we did have a small but effective SMS based early warning network in place.
    This was, in addition to STH storm watch, wherein we keep a watch on, report and track  adverse weather developments in the Bay of Bengal on this blog (see example here).
    In 2011, SMS based alerts have been expanded and already hundreds of organizations and individuals all over the district have started getting text alerts from  IMD(Gangtok) on their mobiles; soon we will have thousands receiving these weather alerts for high wind speeds, heavy rain and other adverse weather phenomenon. In so doing we have given priority to NGOs, media personnel and institutions who would further disseminate the warning to others within their organizations.
    STH is also working with a radio station to have these alerts broadcast on FM and I do believe that we will also have the SMS text messages being sent in the local dialect ie Nepali in the near future.

  • Landslide Documentary made available to 50 schools in the district and Sikkim.
    In 2010 DECU of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) along with STH amongst others, had made a 22min documentary on Landslides & Avalanches aimed at an audience in the junior schools.
    We have made copies of the CD and distributed it to 50 schools in Kalimpong/Darjeeling/Kurseong/ Mirik and also in Sikkim.

  • Vetiver grass saplings
    10,000 saplings of  non-aromatic vetiver grass should be reaching us within a week. This grass which is supposed to be an effective means of erosion control will be planted in landslide prone areas  of Kalimpong during the monsoons of 2011on an experimental basis.

    and a Failure
  • We regret to announce that we had to temporarily cancel our community based work due to many reasons; the most important of which being the all pervasive sense of apathy which afflicts us as a society (with the government mouthing nothing more than empty promises) - too bad, we never seem to believe that our luck can also run out.

    Young men from Dhobi Dhara undergoing first aid training with the army. We have halted our community work in the area for the time being.

    Comment by Praful Rao

    I would like to convey our sincere thanks to India Meteorological Dept (Sikkim) and the Indian Army authorities at Kalimpong  for their steadfast support and help.

1 comment:

Bhiwandi said...

Praful sir,
Setting up of the early warning system is an great achievement. The Vertiver sapling plantation will take some time prove its effectiveness but i am sure slowly people will take it up as a community initiative and also social forestry will be supported by the government. As for the community work let the people rise for the cause...thats what will ownership be in its true sense.