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Now a device to alert flood-susceptible Assam

From Our Correspondent

 Guwahati: When it rains heavily in the upstream the water rises very rapidly in rivers flowing through Assam valley and the phenomenon sometimes triggers devastating flash floods that take heavy toll on lives and property.

Eastern Assam districts of Dhemaji and Lakhimpur particularly face such flash floods of high intensity in Jiadhal and Singora rivers.

In the absence of any mechanism to alert the population downstream about the rapid rise of water level, the impact of such flash floods have been alarming and crippling for the economy of the people in both the districts.

Kathmandu-based International Centre of Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has launched a project to set up a hi-tech flood early warning system in these two flood prone districts in Assam in order to mitigate loss of lives and property during flash floods.

The ICIMOD is implementing the project in collaboration with Aaranyak, a prominent biodiversity conservation organisation in Northeast India which is also a member of the IUCN.

The ICIMOD is funding this project under its Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP).

A team of ICIMOD-Aaranyak researchers led by Dr Partha Jyoti Das of Aaranyak after a making survey of the flood affected areas of the two districts have set up wireless FEWS devices in certain locations.

So far ICIMOD-Aaranyak has set up five such wireless FEWS devices – three in Jiadhal River and two in Singora River. Suitable sites in the upstream of the rivers are being surveyed for setting up two more such devices.

The first wireless FEWS was set up on June 5, 2013.The FEWS comprises the assembly of simple instrument such as a flood gauge and a control unit powered by solar panels. The electronic sensors fitted inside the flood gauge at different heights (to indicate different risk levels) produce alarming sound when water rises in the river and touches the flood gauge at those marks of risk levels. The control unit is set up in a household living near to the river. The household/family should be one that volunteers to take the responsibility of looking after the instruments and disseminate the flood warning information in the village as well as to other villages whenever required.

In an earlier initiative ICIMOD-Aaranyak set up few cable-based flood early warning system in 2010 which were very successful but most of these devices were destroyed by the devastating flood of August 15, 2011 in Jiadhal River.

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