Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday underlined the need to have a better coordination between all the central and state agencies to have a permanent system for forecasting of floods.
He also stressed on extensive use of innovative technologies for improving the forecast and warning system.
The prime minister made these remarks at a virtual meeting with the chief ministers of six states to review the flood situation in various parts of the country.
The states that attended the meeting, which was convened to review their preparedness to deal with the southwest monsoon and the current flood situation in the country, were Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said at the meeting, Modi highlighted that the investments in localised early warning systems should be increased so that the people of an area can be cautioned on time in case of a threatening situation such as breached river embankments, inundation or lightning.
The meet, which lasted nearly an hour and a half, was also attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Ministers of State for Home Nityanand Rai and G Kishan Reddy, and senior officers of the central ministries and organisations concerned.
The prime minister also asserted that in view of the COVID-19 situation, the states must ensure that people follow all health precautions such as wearing face masks, hand sanitization, and maintaining an adequate physical distance with each other while undertaking rescue efforts.
He said the relief material must include provisions for hand washing and sanitising and face masks for the affected people.
Special provisions should be made for elderly people, pregnant women and people with co-morbidities, he observed.
Modi said the states should ensure that all development and infrastructure projects are built with resilience to withstand local disasters and help reduce the consequential losses.
The prime minister pointed out that over the last few years, forecasting agencies such as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the Central Water Commission (CWC) are making concerted efforts to make better and more usable flood forecasts.
They are trying to provide not only rainfall and river-level forecasts, but also location-specific forecasts of inundation.
Pilot projects are also underway to use innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence to improve the location-specific forecasts, for which the states should provide the necessary information to these agencies and timely disseminate the warnings to the local communities.
“The prime minister emphasised on better coordination between all central and state agencies to have a permanent system for forecasting of floods and extensive use of innovative technologies for improving forecast and warning system,” the PMO statement said.
The chief ministers of Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala and the home minister of Karnataka gave updates on the flood situation and rescue efforts in their respective states, according to the statement.
They lauded the efforts of central agencies, including the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), for a timely deployment of teams and rescuing people.
The states also put forward some suggestions for short-term and long-term measures to mitigate the effects of floods.
The prime minister directed officials to take action on the suggestions.
He said the Centre will continue to provide support to the states and Union territories to strengthen their capabilities in dealing with various disasters.
According to those present at the meet, Modi said he would have visited all the states but could not due to the coronavirus pandemic.