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People-centric landslide warning system to save lives in Darjeeling

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A people-centric landslide early warning system has been launched in Giddapahar village, Kurseong, Darjeeling district in West Bengal.

In a joint project of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and Government of West Bengal, the low-cost system educates communities what to look out for when living close to landslide hazards.

A local person is tasked with monitoring rainfall uses a tipping bucket rain gauge and measures the daily rainfall at specified intervals. This information is conveyed to the district disaster management officer (DDMO) to record, with the frequency of rainfall measurements is increased during monsoon season or during heavy rainfall.

Since 2016, the area has also been studied using Insar satellite data and together with the rainfall threshold model and local landslide risk knowledge, a warning will be generated for the local people if there is a landslide risk.

Using a whistle to communicate a warning between the local person and local authorities (three continuous whistle with pause), local people are able to evacuate to safe shelters. Communication can also be via telephone, text message or WhatsApp group with message text saying “ALERT landslide warning issued”.

In addition, villagers have been taught about the landslide hazard scenarios in and around Giddapahar with a billboard highlighting the hazard scenarios erected in the village for guidance.

The GSI reports says: “This is a significant step taken jointly by GSI and the Darjeeling District Administration in reducing landslide risk in the area. An effective utilisation of the system will ensure reduction in the life loss due to landslide, with the community taking a decision about the impending danger after analysing the ground situation at site and hence can manage the warning more efficiently.”

For more information on the project visit the GSI website

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