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'Disaster management mechanism needed'

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, JAN. 25 . The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman, G. Madhavan Nair, today stressed the need for creating a national disaster management mechanism, with space, ground and ocean-based observation systems and linked to analysis centres for acquiring data and making forecasts.

He was speaking to presspersons after inaugurating the Centre for Remote Sensing and Geo Informatics and a permanent space exhibition at the Sathyabama Deemed University here. Though tsunami prediction was not a mature science, "we could use our satellite remote sensing and aerial photography capabilities to provide information needed for relief and rehabilitation."

Tsunami was a rare event in this part of the world. A two-pronged approach had to be adopted to tackle the problem. People residing in the disaster-prone areas should be settled at a safe distance from the sea. Natural barriers such as mangrove forests, which reduced the force of the tsunamis, should be developed. At the same time, a monitoring system should be linked with the communication and coordination regime to generate signals and transmit them across the country. "Efforts are on with other science departments and agencies to instal a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean region."

Dr.Nair said that unlike violent earthquakes, the tsunami could not be easily detected from the surface of the sea, owing to shallow waves. However, based on the ISRO's experience in cyclone detection and issuing warning in disaster-prone areas, especially along the coast of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, "we are now thinking of evolving a total disaster management support system by which satellite images will be analysed and made available to the disaster management control room through appropriate communication network. We have started working on it and during this year, it will be put into operation." Automatic weather stations for collecting data even from remote places and relaying them through satellites would be established in 200 places this year.

Space programme

The PSLV-III would put into orbit the Cartosat with a 2.5-m resolution camera and other equipment with imaging capability by March-end or early April, Dr. Nair said.

The 3.5-tonne INSAT-IVA would be sent from the Ariane launching centre in French Guyana in May, while in the second half of this year another Cartosat with a fine resolution camera would be carried by the PSLV. There was no change in the moon mission scheduled for 2007.

Dr.Nair said 1,000 colleges were likely to be linked to the EDUSAT by year-end.

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