Alert System For Disaster

Odisha Government has proposed to extend existing Early Warning Dissemination Systems(EWDS) and will set up outdoor lightning alert system in 300 most vulnerable locations in the State with a cost of Rs.100 Crore.

Bishnupada Sethi, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) and Managing Director Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) has proposed to the Government of India for these Disaster Mitigation Measures under the backdrop of very severe cyclone “Titli”, which affected nearly a dozen districts.

While the coverage area of present EWDS is limited to cover only three kilometers of the coastal track, where as very severe cyclone Phailin severely affected 10 Kilometer from the coastline, so it is necessary to cover the rest seven kilometers of the coastal track, said a senior official of OSDMA.

Under this backdrop, it is proposed to establish additional three contiguous lines of EWDS parallel to coast to cover 10 km coastal area. The systems would be placed at the roof top of multi storied building and all the communication equipment would be mounted on the 5 metre pole above the buildings.

GPRS system would be used as the communication medium for activating the siren system and dissemination of voice messages. To cover three lines parallel to the 480 km coast, with approximately 3 km distance between two locations, 480 no. of alert sirens would be required.

As per the estimate, Rs 68.64 Crore will be required for the extending the EWDS project area up to 10 km from coastline.

Secondly, lightning has emerged as a major killer during the recent times in the state. In comparison to other natural calamities, the number of death cases due to lightning is much higher in Odisha.

On an average, lightning alone claims more than 400 human lives in the state annually. After the 1999 Super Cyclones fury, the post 17 year period snatched more than 5,000 people struck by lightning. Since one such death is eligible for ex-gratia of Rs 4.0 lakhs, the state government incurs expenditure to the tune of Rs 16-20 Crores every year.

Lightning abruptly arrives, lasts for a few seconds and has no long-term sufferings, people usually forget it and do not consider the gravity at par with disasters like cyclones, floods, drought, etc. if life lost is considered as the biggest loss, then lightning qualifies for the deadliest calamity in the state.

Odihsa witnesses lightning throughout the year except for a few months in the winter. The problem with lightning is that it cannot be predicted sufficiently ahead of the incident, which makes it more challenging to issue timely warnings.

Hence there is an urgent need to make people aware within the shortest possible time and to remain safe. The biggest challenge is also to warn the people in the crop field or any other working areas using updated modern communication technology.

Though OSDMA has lightning forecast data and warnings available approximately 30 minutes prior to the strike, the mode of sending these alerts is currently through SMS and social media only.

Therefore there is an urgent need to adopt better strategy for dissemination of warnings to the general public. An innovative and automated system for lightning and severe weather is proposed which could be audible in villages where people are out in the open area and have the least access to the SMS messages. The system must be integrated into the existing alert tower siren system under the EWDS.

In the first phase, 300 locations in 30 most lightning prone blocks are proposed to be covered with a cost of Rs.31.36 Crore. So both the projects will cost Rs.100 Crore and it is needed most for the State due to its vulnerability, said the officer in OSDMA.

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