Forecasting of Natural Calamities

Forecasting of Natural Calamities

India is vulnerable, in varying degrees, to a large number of hazards. More than 58.6 per cent of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity; over 40 million hectares (12%) of its land is prone to floods and river erosion; close to 5,700 km, India’s 7,516 km, long coastline is prone to cyclones and tsunamis; 68% of its cultivable area is vulnerable to droughts; and, its hilly areas are at risk from landslides and avalanches. Moreover, India is also vulnerable to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies and other man-made hazards. Disaster risks in India are further compounded by increasing vulnerabilities associated with changing demographics and socio-economic conditions, unregulated urbanization, development within high-risk zones, environmental degradation, climate change, other developmental constrains, epidemics and pandemics.

Earth System Science Organization-India Meteorological Department (ESSO-IMD) is responsible for monitoring, detection and forecasting of Cyclones. ESSO-Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (ESSO-INCOIS), Hyderabad is responsible for monitoring, detection and forecasting of Tsunami due to sea-bed earthquakes and storm surges associated with cyclone landfall. ESSO-National centre of Seismology (ESSO-NCS) is responsible for monitoring, detection of Earthquakes along with operational research in pure and applied seismology and earthquake precursory phenomena, earthquake processes and modelling.

ESSO-IMD is also responsible for monitoring, detection and forecasting of other severe weather phenomena like norwesters (severe thunder storms), dust storms, heavy rains and snow, cold and heat waves, etc., which cause destruction of life and property. ESSO-IMD also operates Flood Meteorological Offices (FMOs) at ten locations, viz. Agra, Ahmedabad, Asansol, Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jalpaiguri, Lucknow, New Delhi and Patna. FMOs provide valuable meteorological support to the Central Water Commission (CWC) for issuing flood warnings in respect of the 43 rivers of India: i)Agra - Lower Yamuna and Betwa ; ii)Ahmedabad - Narmada, Tapi, Mahi, Sabarmati, Banas and Deman Ganga; iii)Asansol - Ajay, Mayurakshi and Kangsabati; iv)Bhubaneshwar - Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baiterini, Bruhaba-lang, Subernarekha, Rushkulya and Vansdhara; v)Guwahati - Brahmaputra and Barak; vi)Hyderabad - Godawari and Krishna; vii)Jalpaiguri – Teesta; viii)Lucknow - Ganga, Ramganga, Gomti, Sai, Rapti Ghagra and Samda; ix)New Delhi - Upper Yamuna, Lower Yamuna, Sahibi; x)Patna - Kosi, Mahananda, Baghmati, Kamla, Gandak, Buri Gandak,North Koel, Kanhar, PunPun and Upper Sone. The floods in plains are forecasted about 6 hours to 30 hours in advance by CWC.

Except for earthquake for which no warning system exists. ESSO-IMD operates 24X7 monitoring of satellite based weather monitoring over the potential cyclogenic zones of the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea for detecting the cyclogenesis. Commissioning of the high performance computing (HPC) system has provided opportunity to assimilate satellite radiance, Doppler Weather Radar (DWR), OCEANSAT (scatterometer, total precipitable water content) data, etc. of global oceans in to the global (22km grid scale)/meso-scale(9Km grid scale) forecast systems.

Data generated from all observing systems viz. surface and upper air observations, satellite observations, aircraft observations, DWRs etc. are fully used by various forecast models to generate most representative initial state 3-D structure of the atmosphere and high resolution (9km grid scale) forecasts over India to predict heavy rainfall occurrences. Further, DWR network is primarily employed to improve the severe weather surveillance capability and for operating now-casting (very short range up to 6h in advance) service (operated for about 147 locations across India).

As and when the cyclone systems move in to the 500 km surveillance range of DWRs, identification of strong wind zones and pockets of heavy rainfall within the core cyclone area is carried out and their rapid changes are monitored on continuous basis. ESSO-IMD currently operates 5- Doppler Weather Radars (DWR) at Chennai, Machilipatnam, Visakhapatnam, Kolkata, Sriharikota on the east coast, 675 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) and 1210 Automatic Rain Gauges (ARG) have been commissioned covering all districts of India. With the commissioning of the state-of-the-art observing, monitoring/ early warning and data visualization/information processing and communication technologies, several manual operations have been fully automated.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has formulated various hazard specific guidelines for protection of life and property during natural as well as manmade disasters. Loss of life and damage to property due to various hazards could be considerably reduced through proper planning and implementation of pre and post-disaster preparedness and management strategies by respective State and Central Government agencies in a coordinated manner. NDMA regularly conducts Mock Drills on various disasters taking all stakeholders on board for capacity building and preparedness. Annual Mock Exercise Plan is drawn in advance and Mock Exercises are conducted in State/ UTs in coordination with concerned State Disaster Management Authorities.

Further, as part of pre-disaster preparedness measure, Government of India has also completed seismic microzonation studies of some of the major cities in the country such as, Jabalpur, Guwahati, Bangalore, greater Bharuch in Gujarat, Jammu in J & K, Shillong in Meghalaya, Chennai in Tamilnadu and Sikkim state. These studies demarcate the zones of least to most damage prone areas within the urban clusters so as to help the respective town and country planning agencies to formulate perspective planning within the overall earthquake impact minimization efforts. The Government has implemented various programmes to educate and raise awareness amongst school children and general public on various aspects of hazards, their impacts and measures to mitigate losses.

This information was given today by Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan in a written reply to Lok Sabha question.
Himalayan Meteorology

The Government has approved the Integrated Himalayan Meteorology programme in August 2014. Currently efforts are on for launching procurement of all envisaged observing systems and hence no expenditure is incurred so far.

This information was given today by Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan in a written reply to Lok Sabha question.
Cyclone Centres

Under the oversight mechanism of Earth System Science Organization (ESSO), an integrated cyclone and associated storm surge warning system is made functional all along the coastal and island regions. Such an effort has resulted into the considerable demonstrated improvement of cyclone forecast in respect of the Phailin cyclone during 08- 14 October 2013 and the Hudhud cyclone during 06-14 October 2014. For effective operational cyclone activities, an appropriate institutional mechanism comprising cyclone warning division at ESSO - India Meteorological Department (ESSO-IMD) New Delhi and three Area Cyclone Warning Centers (ACWCs) at Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Cyclone Warning Centers (CWCs) at Bhubaneswar, Vishakhapatnam and Ahmadabad are made functional on 24X7 basis.

ESSO-IMD operates 24X7 monitoring of satellite based weather monitoring over the potential cyclogenic zones of the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea for detecting the cyclogenesis. Commissioning of the high performance computing (HPC) system has provided opportunity to assimilate satellite radiance, Doppler Weather Radar (DWR), OCEANSAT (scatterometer, total precipitable water content) data etc. of global oceans in to the global (22Km grid scale)/meso-scale (9Km grid scale) forecast systems. The performance evaluation of the updated global/meso-scale forecast systems in continuation with adoption of improved local forecast systems for the past 5-7 years have demonstrated enhanced forecast skill by about 18% quantitatively as far as the track and landfall forecasts of the tropical cyclones are concerned.

As and when the cyclone systems move in to the 500Km surveillance range of DWRs, identification of strong wind zones and pockets of heavy rainfall within the core cyclone area is carried out and their rapid changes are monitored on continuous basis. ESSO-IMD currently operates 5- Doppler Weather Radars (DWR) at Chennai, Machilipatnam, Visakhapatnam, Kolkata, Sriharikota on the east coast, 675 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) and 1210 Automatic Rain Gauges (ARG) have been commissioned covering all districts of India. With the commissioning of the state-of-the-art observing, monitoring/ early warning and data visualization/information processing and communication technologies, several manual operations have been fully automated.

By leveraging all available modelling and observing systems along with persistent efforts, ESSO- IMD is able to increase the lead time forecast of cyclones upto 5-7 days and to reduce the track and landfall errors of cyclones by about 7% over the last 3-4 years. ESSO continuously guides the expansion, planning and augmentation of land, ocean and satellite based observing systems and implementation of advanced data assimilation forecast systems along with augmentation of high end computing, network, data reception and warning dissemination infrastructure.

This information was given today by Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan in a written reply to Lok Sabha question.
Suo Motu Statement by External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj in Lok Sabha on Prime Minister’s Recent Visits Abroad

Following is the text of the Suo Motu Statement by External Affairs Minister and Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Smt. Sushma Swaraj in Lok Sabha today on Prime Minister’s recent visits abroad:

Madam Speaker,

I rise to make a statement on Honourable Prime Minister`s foreign visits and our external engagement more broadly, since the last session of the Parliament.

As Members are aware, the outcome of the historic general election in India has rekindled international interest and restored global confidence in India. Indeed, at a time of uncertainty and turbulence in the world, the new Government in India, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is seen as one of the positive developments in the world. There is unprecedented optimism about India`s rapid progress under Prime Minister`s leadership; and, widespread expectation of effective and meaningful contribution from India for advancing peace, stability and prosperity in the world.

Madam Speaker, Prime Minister has consistently advocated a proactive and innovative approach to foreign policy that is aligned with our Government`s primary goal of accelerating national economic development. India needs access to capital, technology, resources, energy, markets and skills; a secure environment, a peaceful neighbourhood and a stable world; and, an open and stable global trading system.

Our approach is also rooted in our inheritance of a timeless tradition of global engagement and peaceful co-existence; and, dictated by the evolving imperatives of a globalised world.

In the past six months, we have moved with speed and resolve, rarely seen in Indian external engagement, to rebuild our partnerships across the world. We have set new milestones and reached new frontiers in India`s foreign policy. The global response has been just as unparalleled.

Madam Speaker, since the last session of the Parliament, Prime Minister has visited Japan, the United States, Myanmar, Australia, Fiji and Nepal, besides participating in the United Nations General Assembly. We were honoured by the visits of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese President Xi Jinping to India in September. During the course of these few months, Prime Minister has met around 45 international leaders from every inhabited continent of the world. He has participated in India-ASEAN Summit, the East Asia Summit, the G20 Summit and the SAARC Summit – each of which is crucial to the future of our region, Asia and the world.

Despite our shared democratic values with Australia and her enormous potential to become a vital strategic and economic partner for India, it took 28 years for the Prime Minister of India to visit Australia. Although Fiji is an influential country in the Pacific region and 37% of its population is of Indian origin, his visit to Fiji was the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 33 years.

Prime Minister became the first Indian leader to host a meeting of Pacific Island countries during his visit to Fiji. The Pacific islands share our challenges and also collectively constitute an influential voice in international forums. This pioneering initiative received a rousing response from the island countries. It marks the beginning of sustained Indian partnership with the Pacific region.

Prime Minister had the honour to address the Joint Session of the Australian Parliament – the first Indian Prime Minister do so - and became the first international leader to address Fiji`s recently elected Parliament under the new Constitution that restored democracy to the island country. Both addresses were extremely well received in the host countries and the world.

In each visit, Prime Minister reached out to people in every walk of life, on a scale rarely seen before during visits by Indian leaders. It reflected our belief that in the modern era, relations between nations go well beyond national capitals and official engagements.

Madam Speaker, our external engagement stands out not merely for the symbols of honour that he received, but also in terms of outcomes.

We have elevated our relations with Japan to a Special Strategic and Global Partnership; tangibly deepened our relations with China, while bringing more focus on outstanding issues; restored the momentum in our strategic partnership with the United States; charted a new course in our relations with Australia; and, translated a hesitant Look East Policy of the past into a proactive Act East Policy.

As our Government prepares to meet the infrastructure gap in India with the next generation infrastructure and develop India`s manufacturing sector, we have received a commitment from Government of Japan of facilitating public and private funding of 3.5 trillion Yen – or approximately 35 billion U.S. dollars - over the next five years; agreements with China on two industrial parks and intended investments of 20 billion U.S. dollars; an estimated investment plans of 42 billion U.S. dollars from U.S. companies over the next five years.

With Australia, we have signed the civil nuclear cooperation agreement and other agreements to strengthen our energy security. With the United States, we have signed a significant partnership agreement to use renewable energy for rapidly expanding rural access to energy.

With Nepal, we have entered a new era of cooperation that has eluded us for decades. Nearly two decades after signing the Mahakali Treaty with Nepal, we have finally constituted the Pancheshwar Development Authority for the 5600 MW multipurpose Pancheshwar Project. In addition, we have entered into a new Power Trade Agreement with Nepal; two Indian companies have received Project Licence for two hydropower projects for 900 MW each; and, we have signed the long overdue Motor Vehicles Agreement, which will make travel and tourism easier for people of both countries.

Our engagement with the United States also helped secure our interests on food security in the WTO and advance the negotiations on the Doha Development Round of WTO. This initiative has contributed to strengthening the global trading regime, which is of direct interest to India, without in any way diluting our fundamental obligation to protect the interests of our poor.

Our focus has been not only on infrastructure and manufacturing.

At the heart of Prime Minister`s engagements abroad has been efforts to promote cooperation on skill development; advanced medical research for diseases, like the agreement on research for malaria and TB with the United States; food security, such as our work with Australia on agricultural research for the benefit of our farmers; education, such as the agreement to collaborate with the United States on a new generation Indian Institute of Technology and to bring up to 1000 top university teachers from the United States annually to teach in India. Kyoto-Varanasi twinning arrangement, Ahmedabad-Guangzhou and Mumbai-Shanghai sister city agreements, or the agreement with the United States on developing three smart cities will provide impetus to our efforts to address the challenges and harness the opportunities of India`s rapid urbanisation.

Multilateral and regional forums are key platforms for advancing our national interests. Prime Minister`s speech in United Nations General Assembly in Hindi was a matter of great national pride for India. His call for accelerating reforms of the United Nations Security Council has imparted urgency to our efforts and his call for declaration of International Day of Yoga in the United Nations has met with widespread support.

At the G20 Summit in Brisbane, where there was immense interest in India`s economic reforms, Prime Minister put the spotlight on the need for collective international action against black money; gave innovative suggestions on promoting collective action for cost-effective and sustainable solutions to infrastructure in the developing world; proposed a new global initiative on renewable energy; and, cautioned against regional trade initiatives becoming instruments of political competition and fragmentation of the global trading system.

The ten-nation ASEAN is one of the world`s largest economies, with the third largest population and the third fastest growing economy behind China and India. At the India-ASEAN Summit in Myanmar, there was a new level of enthusiasm and optimism among our ASEAN partners that a reformed and a reinvigorated Indian economy would provide a stronger foundation for a deeper partnership between India and ASEAN in the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in our shared region.

Prime Minister also took the opportunity of his visit to Nay Pyi Taw to pledge to Myanmar`s leadership a stronger partnership with one of our most important neighbours.

Prime Minister`s strong belief in a shared future of our neighbourhood is reflected in several concrete steps – the participation of leaders from neighbouring countries at the swearing in ceremony on May 26; his choice of Bhutan as his first foreign destination; and his visit to Nepal, which was, sadly, the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in 17 years to our closest neighbour.

Prime Minister reiterated his vision of shared prosperity in South Asia at the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu on November 26-27. He articulated India`s determination to lead the efforts, as the region`s largest and most centrally located country, towards greater cooperation and integration in South Asia, both through SAARC and outside it. Prime Minister`s vision and initiatives for the region has sparked a new wave of optimism in our South Asian partners.

Madam Speaker, Prime Minister has stated on a number of occasions that we can build a prosperous future only the strong foundation of a secure India.

On every occasion, Prime Minister clearly articulated India`s expectation of a stable and peaceful Asia and the surrounding ocean regions, predicated on universal acceptance of international law and norms and peaceful resolution of disputes. This also includes maritime security. Prime Minister also highlighted the emerging challenges of cyber security and space security.

India shares the international concerns on developments in West Asia, including with regard to Islamic State, and its global ramifications. At the same time, Prime Minister stressed that the global challenge of terrorism requires a comprehensive global strategy against all terrorism, without drawing distinction between terrorist groups and their supporters; willingness to isolate sponsors of terrorism and to help nations willing to fight it; a need for all those who believe in humanity to stand together; and, to make every effort to delink terrorism from religion. Our external engagement has helped deepen security cooperation with key partners.

Madam Speaker,

The excitement, energy and confidence in the Indian community abroad about India mirror the national mood in India after the election. Prime Minister has paid special attention to reach out to the Indian community abroad on a scale that is unmatched. Our decisions on PIO and OCI have been widely welcomed by the Indian community abroad. The Indian community today not only feels more connected to India, but has responded enthusiastically to his call to participate in India`s transformation.

Madam Speaker,

In the last few months, Prime Minister has laid out a clear vision of India`s role and place in the world; signalled willingness to assume leadership expected from the world`s largest democracy; and, demonstrated ability to turn commitments into action and convert opportunities into outcomes. We have revived important relationships that have long suffered from neglect. We have shown our will to speak clearly on our security interests and defend them robustly. Our pursuit of global aspirations has been accompanied by global engagement.

There is a new global confidence in India. In turn, Prime Minister`s visits have advanced our pursuit of a secure and stable environment that we need to accomplish our development goals. It will also contribute in a significant measure to our mission of accelerating economic growth, boosting investment, creating jobs and transforming the quality of life of our people.

Thank you.
Government Sets-up A High Level Committee to Interact with Trade and industry on Tax Laws

         In his Budget Speech 2014-15, the Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley had announced the setting-up of a High Level Committee to interact with trade and industry and ascertain areas where clarity on tax laws is required.

Accordingly, a High Level Committee has been constituted with the following composition:-


Shri Ashok Lahiri, Former Chief Economic Advisor(CEA), Ministry of Finance


- Chairman


Shri Sidhartha Pradhan, Retired Member, Settlement Commission (Income Tax & Wealth Tax)


- Member


Shri Gautam Ray, Retired DG(Audit) Customs and Central Excise


- Member

 The Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Committee are as follows:-

i) The High Level Committee (HLC) will interact with trade and industry on regular basis and ascertain areas where clarity in tax laws is required.

ii) The HLC will give recommendations to the CBDT/CBEC for issuance of appropriate clarifications by way of circulars, instructions etc. on tax issues.

iii) The CBDT/CBEC will issue the required clarifications, circulars, instructions etc. within a period of 2 months from the date of receipt of recommendations of the HLC.

iv) The HLC will be assisted by two Nodal Officers not below the rank of Joint Secretary/Commissioner, one each from Income Tax and Customs & Central Excise. The choice of Nodal Officers will be recommended by CBDT and CBEC. The appointment of the Nodal Officers will be made with the approval of Revenue Secretary.

v) The HLC shall set its own procedures for regulating its work

vi)  The HLC may consult experts and tax professionals from outside as it may consider appropriate. The HLC may also invite officers from Department o Revenue, including CBEC and CBDT and other Government Departments/Agencies for interaction, as may be necessary.

vii) The Chairman and two members of the Committee will function on part time basis.

(viii) The term of the Committee shall be for one year from the date of its constitution, subject to further extensions, as may be considered appropriate by the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.

(ix) The HLC shall submit half-yearly reports to the Finance Minister.

Health Minister Shri J P Nadda: Committed to prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of disorders in children with special abilities

The Government is committed to prevention, early diagnosis and timely and appropriate treatment of disorders in children, including development disorders so that they enjoy good health and become valuable assets of the country.

The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Shri J P Nadda stated this at the closing of the three day workshop on Neurodevelopment Disorder in Children organised by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, pediatric department of AIIMS, with support from UNICEF and Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI) in health. Today also marks the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.

The Health Minister said that the government through its various efforts is addressing key developmental issues, including developmental delay, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, Autism, Hyperactivity Disorder, learning disability, vision and hearing impairment. He added that an estimated over 200 million children in developing countries are not reaching their full developmental potential. In developed world 10-20% of individuals have learning or developmental difficulties. In India, estimates suggest that 10% children are affected with developmental delays and are at significant risk of permanent disabilities, Shri Nadda said.

The Health Minister emphasised on the importance of early detection for effective intervention in children with neurodevelopment disorders. He informed that Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) under National Health Mission (NHM) has comprehensively incorporated early diagnosis and intervention strategies for developmental disorders. The Minister stressed on the importance of collective efforts to provide accessibility to medical services and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. He said that within the new policies, programs and strategies have been designed to empower children and persons with special needs with equal rights and opportunities in education and employment.

The Health Minister released the Framework for Convergent Action towards Comprehensive care of Children with Developmental Difficulties, at the occasion. This will serve as an indispensible guide to future action plans to be developed by policymakers within various ministries, the Minister said.

Shri J P Nadda also launched a mobile-based microsite for training module for healthcare practitioners.

Celebrating the International Day for Persons with Disabilities with a workshop on Neurodevelopment Disorder in Children renews and reinforces our commitment towards the cause of persons with disabilities and special needs, the Secretary (H&FW), Shri Lov Verma stated. He said that one in every ten children in the country suffer from some form of disability. The big challenges are timely and early diagnosis, and capacity building of frontline workers in early detection, he said. Early detection aids timely intervention. He also emphasised on planning for lifespan care for children with special needs.

Mr. Louis Georges Arsenault, Country Representative, UNICEF highlighted dignity, right and wellbeing of persons with special needs, and the need for creating an all-inclusive society for children to enable them to realise their potential which would include special schools for children with flexible curriculum, and qualified and sensitive teachers.

Ms. Nata Menabde, Country Representative, WHO stated that this issue is relevant to all sections of society irrespective of the socio-economic distinctions. She stressed on need for pro-poor policies and strategies for the marginalised communities and sections of society as they were the ones which bore the burden of disability the most. The need of the hour is integrated delivery of health services through community participation, she said.

Mr. Eivind Homme, Ambassador of Norway to India stated that within the NIPI, commendable initiatives have been taken for maternal and neo-natal health, particularly in states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan. Early diagnosis and treatment of Neurodevelopment Disorder will reduce the cost on lengthy and expensive care, he said.

The three-day workshop aimed to sensitize the primary health care providers and health professionals dealing with children affected with neurodevelopment disorders. It intended to increase awareness on early identification and expose participants to available tools validated in Indian context for early diagnosis and management. The workshop also aimed to improve the quality of the life of children having neurodevelopmental disorders through convergent action. About 250-300 participants took part in the workshop. These included paediatricians working in the area of child development, RBSK nodal officers from various states and UTs, partner organizations such as WHO, UNICEF, NIPI, IAP, ICMR.

Neurodevelopmental disorder / difficulty is a collective term used for both developmental delays and developmental disabilities. Development delay is the condition in which a child is not achieving skills according to the expected time frame. Developmental Disability refers to a condition where a child becomes mentally or physically impaired and finally resulting in substantial functional limitations in major life activities. Developmental delays are common in early childhood, affecting at least 10 percent of children. However 2% of these children may ultimately suffer from developmental disability despite best of efforts.

Neurodevelopmental disorders include intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Specific Learning Disorder and Communication Disorders. Motor disorders include cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular conditions. Other special sensory disorders include vision and hearing impairment.

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