Everybody in the nation remembers the devastating Tsunami that damaged coastal cities and habitations in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines and other South-East Asian countries. In India the east coastal states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands were affected. The 2004 Tsunami took a worldwide toll of over 120,000 people including 25,000 from India. In response to the Tsunami it was decided by the then newly sworn in Congress-led UPA government to commission and install a comprehensive Tsunami Warning system in all major cities along the east and west coasts of peninsular India.
Now after three years a comprehensive system has been developed and installed by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) at a staggering cost of Rs.125 crore. Fed by a network of 12 bottom pressure recorders and a network of 50 tidal gauges installed on ocean beds of Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea and along the coast respectively. The warning system is expected to work as an early warning system to evacuate people from coastal areas in case of a Tsunami warning. The system when deployed successfully has the capacity to save thousands of lives by issuing timely alerts in case of any future tsunami.
The pressure recorders sited at the ocean bed will record data and transmit it to the national tsunami warning station at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) sited in Hyderabad.
The warning system was inaugurated by union minister for science and technology, Kapil Sibal and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Raja Sekhar Reddy on October 15. Currently the system is not fully functional and has only six bottom pressure recorders – four in the Bay of Bengal and two in the Arabian Sea – and 30 tidal gauges. The remaining six recorders and 20 tidal gauges will be installed within the next five months say INCOIS authorities.
Tata Consultancy Services in close cooperation with INCOIS has developed a customized software to process the data obtained from the pressure recorders and analyze the same to detect any future Tsunami or storm. When a warning is sounded by the recorders, the information will be immediately passed on to the Union Home Ministry for further action, i.e. to issue nationwide warnings. According to INCOIS director, Shailesh Naik, the entire process of acquiring the signals, processing and issuing a warning will take hardly 13 minutes.
Though the warning apparatus was inaugurated on October 15, the system has been in test for the past several months. The system proved its worthiness when the 8.4 Richter undersea earthquake hit near the Indonesian border on September 12.
Another record of India’s Tsunami Warning System is the record time in which the apparatus was conceptualized, researched and installed. The pacific warning system took a full five years to build and install, while Indian scientists have accomplished a similar task in just three years to the surprise and awe of the international scientific community.
Several globally renowned scientists have applauded the worthiness and modernity of the system. Dr. Peter Koltermann, in charge of Tsunami issues in the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission also applauded Indian scientists.