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From disaster response to disaster preparedness


Ajit Kumar Samaiyar
Joint Director, Flood Management Information System, Bihar

One of the most flood-prone states in India, Bihar is working aggressively to mitigate the flood damages. Ajit Kumar Samaiyar tells Geospatial Media about the role of FMIS in flood management in the state

Bihar is one of India’s most flood-prone states. In such a scenario, what is the objective and role of Flood Management Information System (FMIS)?
The main objective of FMIS is to shift from disaster response to improved disaster preparedness, improve the lead time of the flood forecast in terms of river gauge level and flood inundation (depth, duration and extent), establish a focal point for information (a web-portal) and improve information flow and sector preparedness by updating flood manuals.

To fulfill these objectives, FMIS Bihar has been providing the information generated in-house as per the requirements of its stakeholders like Water Resources Department, Disaster Management Department and Agriculture Department, during each monsoon season since 2007. Even post monsoon, a lot of relevant information is generated for the stakeholders.

How is FMIS using geospatial technology in its various activities?
FMIS is using geospatial technologies like GIS, remote sensing, cartography, mapping and LiDAR to generate the information required by its key stakeholders. We are also using these technologies for in-house modelling purposes and hydrological studies. We are analysing flood scenarios, current state of river, river behaviour during monsoon, present alignment and status of embankments, location and status of anti flood sluices (AFS) and other structures.

FMIS produces a daily flood information bulletin. We use geospatial technology in preparing the bulletin also.

Are you also producing flood risk maps?
We are preparing inundation maps upto village level, flood intensity maps, maximum inundation map, probable inundation map, area specific map, hydrologic status map etc.

FMIS is establishing real time data acquisition system. Can you tell us more about that?
Real time data acquisition system (RTDAS) – is proposed for Bagmati river basin, which is the focus area for flood and inundation forecast modeling task. As per the plan, there will be 20 automatic telemetry-based rain gauge stations and seven river gauge stations, along with three acoustic doppler current profilers (ADCP). We plan to use geospatial technology to transfer the data in real time from the field unit to the central unit and to the web portal. This data will consequently be used in flood and inundation modeling, river migration analysis etc.

Can you tell us about the involvement of World Bank in FMIS?
FMIS, Bihar was established as a water- sector partnership matrix between the World Bank and the Government of Bihar. It is decided that Water Resources Department, Bihar will develop and operate the FMIS with technical assistance (TA) from the World Bank and financial support from Department of International Fund.

The biggest beneficiaries of a flood management programme are the people affected by floods. Do you have a mechanism in place to involve citizens’ participation?
Yes, component C of FMIS- Phase-II addresses community-based flood risk management in targeted areas. It involves “planning community outreach for flood management” in which strategies to improve community awareness, preparedness and response, including institutional arrangements and tools for improved early warning communication and dissemination and for community reporting of flood problems will be developed.

In the next stage, communication tools and community participation to demonstrate the “last mile” connectivity will be established.

What are the challenges you face?
The challenges facing FMIS include limitation of satellite data availability at close intervals and non-availability of high resolution Radar data during monsoon period. Also, vendors don’t often deliver what they promise. Our in-house capability development is in progress but we lack some expert hands. Unavailability of hydrological and reliable meteorological data are the other challenges we are facing as of now.

What are the future plans of FMIS?
FMIS would enhance its functions and products, supported by improved hydrologic telemetry observations. It would offer more reliable and longer term rainfall forecasts, better flood and inundation forecast. Other plans include airborne synthetic aperture radar (ASAR) surveys for real-time inundation information during floods, close-contour surveys of the flood plains, mapping floodplain geomorphology including micro-relief to understand and improve drainage, improving communication links and information flow, risk and vulnerability analysis, institutional and community outreach mechanisms and real-time flood data dissemination. FMIS would support preparation of master plan for flood control and drainage, irrigation improvement and overall water sector development in State of Bihar.