Interviews |

Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan | Space Based Information on Floods Played a Major Role in Saving Thousands of Lives During Kerala Floods

G’nY. How can satellites help in flood situations especially in relation to urban floods?

Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan : Floods are one of the most frequently occurring disasters in our country, creating major disturbances on ground, particularly with regard to infrastructure and assets, including livestock. As severe floods affect ground infrastructure, satellite based systems turn out to be most reliable for managing floods. Globally, several countries benefit from satellite based services especially under severe flood situations. ISRO has a well organised Disaster Management Support (DMS) Programme that provides required support during natural disasters. The Centre and States efficiently use satellite based services of ISRO-DMS Programme at the different stages of disasters.

G’nY. What was ISRO’s role during the recent Kerala floods?

Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan : During the Kerala floods that began in the first week of August, ISRO promptly responsded by providing satellite based information on flood extent throughout the period by using data from Indian satellites as well as from satellites belonging to other countries through an ‘International Charter’. Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) used this information effectively for their operations on a regular basis from the onset of the floods till normalcy. They also used this information extensively for their relief operations. ISRO provided similar information to concerned departments like Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on flood extent information, 14 times during the event. I am sure, Space Technology, with its versatile capabilities through remote sensing, SATNAV and SATCOM, will continue to play a major role in effectively dealing with all natural disasters and in saving precious lives of the people.

G’nY. If a user needs to access real-time / near-real time images of the disaster affected areas, does ISRO provide any such resource?

Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan : ISRO provides satellite based information on the disaster affected areas in near real time mode to state and central government departments. Near real-time information is made available through its Disaster-specific NDEM Portal as also through ISRO’s geospatial portal, Bhuvan (bhuvan.nrsc.gov.in) for government and other voluntary organisations to utilise for better management of the situation. This was done for the Kerala floods as well. In fact space-based advance warnings—on floods and cyclone, play a major role in saving thousands of lives. These also help local governments in appropriate planning and implementation of relief and rehabilitation measures.

G’nY. Does ISRO data help in urban flood modelling?

Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan : Very high resolution satellite stereo data provides several inputs for modelling urban floods such as the digital surface model for elevation details in the urban area and open drainage—critical infrastructure which are very essential.

G’nY. Can the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) based remote sensing be used to estimate the damage caused by disasters on real time basis?

Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan : Most definitely. Very high resolution satellite data is used for estimating the damage caused due to any disaster over a large area. However, if the area is small UAVs can be used for a quick estimation of damages. Together, they can provide a better solution.

G’nY. Is the Flood Early Warning System (FLEWS) model available for Kerala? If not, are there any plans to deploy it in areas prone to urban flooding?

Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan : Flood Early Warning System (FLEWS) is successfully used in Assam for Brahmaputra and its tributaries, based on the request from the State Government. This model is not available for Kerala, at present. However, this can be considered as per the requirement of the state. As this is a riverine flood model, it needs modifications for urban flooding.

G’nY. The Telangana water Resources Information System (TWRIS) is an innovative solution available online. Are there any plans to extend it to the rest of the nation?

Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan : ISRO has already developed and deployed Water Resources information System (WRIS) at national level for Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), which is operational and effectively used by MoWR. As per the request from Telangana, TWRIS is developed for the specific needs of the state, by customising WRIS. The same is also being attempted for the state of Andhra Pradesh. ISRO is ready to support any state based on their requirements.

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