Sunday, Dec 14, 2003
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By Mahesh Vijapurkar
The contract with the U.S.-based Weather Modification, Inc. that commenced its actual seeding operations on September 2 this year comes to an end tomorrow.
The programme, seeding clouds over 73 chronically drought-prone taluks has been described as ``successful.''
Two options are now being examined: whether to buy the aircraft and the radar, hire the personnel and run the cloud seeding programme or farm it out to an agency as now. ``In all probability,'' a source involved in the programme told The Hindu, ``the second option may be employed.'' In the event the first option was exercised, it is conceded, much time may be lost in buying the equipment radar and aircraft and finding the personnel.
The State Government feels that it is better to go in for cloud-seeding at the start of the monsoon itself than wait for failure of rain and then carry out expensive anti-drought measures. ``It is cheaper than drought relief operations,'' the source said.
The Maharashtra Government paid Weather Modification, Inc. Rs. 5.4 crores for the operations to spray sodium chloride using a Piper Cheyenne aircraft. The seeding was done for 21 days.
It is admitted that Maharashtra chose to go in for this experiment this year ``at the tail-end of the monsoon and in desperation.'' Anyway ``it was successful.''
In the absence of adequate density of rain gauges, the actual precipitation is not precisely quantified but an exercise is on to evolve more innovative means to assess the impact next year.
It could even be a gauge in each school in the region. ``We are sure that we have managed to enhance the rainfall in the target region.''
The density of rain gauges covering clusters of villages fulfil the norms prescribed by the Indian Meteorological Department, which in turn is based on those laid down by the World Meteorological Organisation.
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