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March 27, 2018

Weatherman’s operations hampered by land shortage in Bengaluru

BENGALURU: Only 22 of the India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s 33 centres in Karnataka are full fledged, thanks to the government’s inability to provide it with adequate land parcels.
At centres which lack facilities, the IMD depends on government or private agencies for space, equipment and other purposes.
All that the department wants is a small piece of land — 5X5 metres, which is less than half of the residential plots given to economically weaker sections — wherever it has a centre.

Raja Ramesh, meteorologist with the Bengaluru centre, said they have been asking for land to meetexposure conditions like open space and fair distance from tall trees or other obstructions to record weather parameters like rain, temperature and wind speed.

“Unlike other departmental set-ups, there is no law or other backing to provide land for weather observatories in the state,” he pointed out.

A meteorologist said in places where they don’t have department-owned observatories, weather monitoring is compromised whenever they have to shift the facilities due to lack of space. “Take for instance, Hulikal in Shivamogga district, where we are struggling to install a proper rain gauge due to lack of adequate space. The place records the highest rainfall in the state and in southern India, but we are not able to record it properly,” he said.
IMD has 310 rain-gauge stations, including three in Bengaluru — on Palace Road, HAL and KIA.

Sources in the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Cell (KSNDMC) also said their rain gauges at over 5,600 sites in the state face similar problems. “Most of these rain gauges are located in public health centres, gram panchayat premises or other government offices. Whenever these agencies want to expand or redevelop their premises, the first casualty will be rain gauges which they want us to shift to some other location,” they added.