South Asian international locations plan SOS system for hydrological mangement of Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin

India and its neighbouring international locations sharing the trans-boundary Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basins are planning to develop a Hydrological SOS system — a round-the-year system to share knowledge on reservoirs, rivers and dam waters, which can assist mitigate water hazards like floods, droughts, mudslides and accelerated erosion.

A two-day meet on the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basins — collectively organised by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and India Meteorological Department (IMD) — started in New Delhi on Monday. Hydrological specialists from the Central Water Commission (CWC) and scientists from Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China are attending the meet.

The GBM river basin system cuts throughout India, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The fragile ecology, assorted terrain and socio-economic-political ties add to the challenges in addressing the flooding brought on by the three rivers.

Last October, the South Asian Flash Flood Warning system was launched by India. This system has been sending warnings six hours forward of doubtless flash flooding. The IMD’s hydrometeorological division sends alerts and advisories for India, Nepal, Sri lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Trans-boundary rivers originating exterior India trigger large flooding in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh throughout the monsoon season. According to CWC stories, India has suffered an annual lack of Rs 6,000 crore yearly between 1953 and 2000.

“Floods are part of the natural ecosystem, they can neither be fully controlled nor avoided. But efforts can be taken to minimise the losses,” stated RK Sinha, chairman, CWC.

He added, “The proposed trans-boundary hydrometeorological early warning system is important and will cover major flood plains caused by trans-boundary flowing rivers.”

M Ravichandran, secretary, MoES, stated, “The GBM basin often sees cyclones, salination, massive flooding and droughts due to both climate change and human activities. But more importantly, it supports rich biodiversity and livelihood. All stakeholders need to analyse risks together and take steps to implement the early warning system.”

For India, the unregulated left financial institution rivers of the Ganga–Ghandak, Kosi and Ghaghra and the Brahmaputra, pose critical flooding threats yearly, added Sinha.

Representatives from Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal stated an early warning system and extra sharing of hydrometeorological knowledge was the necessity of the hour.

During the two-day meet, the worldwide specialists will put together an idea plan for the proposed Hydromet SOS. “Different countries will work together and develop a system where information on the status of hydrological processes and outlook on extended range scale will be provided,” stated Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director normal, IMD.