New Delhi, February 26 (G’nY News Service): Due to its physio-graphic and climatic conditions, India is one of the most disaster prone areas of the world. Almost 85 per cent of India’s area is vulnerable to one or multiple natural hazards.
Of India’s 28 states and 7 union territories, 22 are disaster-prone. Almost 57 per cent of the land is vulnerable to earthquakes (high seismic zones III–V), 68 per cent to drought, 8 per cent to cyclones and 12 per cent to floods. (http://www.simplydecoded.com/2013/10/21/india-disaster-profile-and-management/)
Yet, India has been poor in disseminating information on climate change and disaster predictions. On February 9, Google announced that it will provide India with a floods alerts feature in some of their applications. Google flood alerts will be available on their web search, Google now cards, Google maps and Public Alerts homepage. This will help people with critical information during natural disasters. Google will be using data provided by the Central Water Commission (CWC). CWC has active observation stations in 170 different areas from which the data will be collected and sent to Google.
Google India Product Manager Payal Patel said, “Timely information is the first step in disaster preparedness and has the potential to save thousands of lives normally lost to natural disasters each year,”
In 2015, Google had also introduced ‘Cyclone Alerts’, which offers information about cyclone- related hazards, including a map and expected timeline, as well as tips on how to stay safe. Google and Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) have come up with their own ways through which they could help India in spreading awareness, warnings and how to be safe information.
Following Google, KMC announced an application of their own which would provide climate and disaster warnings. A press release by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that, “The mobile app is the first-of-its-kind in the country and is intended to give out information to citizens on various eco-friendly measures and alerts during disasters as part of preparedness planning. This initiative is expected to help citizens take steps at individual and collective level to make a difference to the city”.
Member and Mayor-in-Council of the KMC, Debashis Kumar, said, “We are the first city to launch the app. It will go a long way in creating awareness among people by letting them know the pollution levels and be alert”.
A climate change cell will be set up in Kolkata affiliated with the British government under a two-year UK – KMC programme. The programme is valued at 1-million-pound and will act as a platform for citizens to interact with civic body officials on issues of climate change. The cell will be set up at KMC headquarters at SN Banerjee road area. The application would be activated through this climate change cell.