New Delhi: The World Bank has approved a $175 million loan for the National Hydrology Project to improve India’s ability to forecast floods and reduce vulnerability to recurring floods and droughts.
The loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a six-year grace period in which no interest payments will be due. The loan will mature in 23 years.
“In the context of climate change, advanced flood management and enhanced river basin planning are essential for building livelihoods and sustaining economic growth. This project has the potential to help communities to plan in advance to build resilience against possible uncertainties of climate change,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.
The National Hydrology Project is expected to take forward the success of the Hydrology Project-I and Hydrology Project-II, under which real-time flood forecast systems in two large river systems (Krishna and Satluj-Beas) were developed to give reservoir managers an accurate picture of the water situation in their region.
The system increased the time available for early warnings on flood and preparation for flood management improved from hours to days, which in-turn saved hundreds of lives and avoided flood damages of as much as $65 million a year.
This National Hydrology Project will aim to cover the entire country, including the states along the Ganga and Brahmaputra-Barak basins.
“Apart from helping states that have already benefited from the earlier two projects to further upgrade and complete their monitoring networks, it will help new states to better manage water flows from the reservoirs. Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) have already been signed between the central government and the states to integrate and establish the National Water Informatics Center,” said an official statement.
“National Flood Forecasting Systems with an advance warning system and reservoir operation systems as well as water resources accounting in river basins will be included under the project,” it added.
Many reports in recent times have highlighted that India is a water stressed country and situation is bound to worsen as authorities try to manage water for India’s huge population amidst recurring floods and drought.
According to World Bank, the project will also help the states monitor all the important aspects of the hydro-meteorological cycle and adopt the procedures laid out in the earlier projects like measure how much rain or snow has fallen right in the catchments of rivers, measure through digital gauges how rapidly the snow will melt, the speed with which the water is flowing, how much silt has built up, how much water will reach the reservoir, and how soon it will do so.
“Sensors in the field will instantly transmit this information to data centers through satellite or mobile phone technology, enabling managers to form a clear picture of the water situation unfolding in their region,” the statement explained.
“Based on our experience over the last 20 years in establishing Hydrological Information Systems in southern India and in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, both national and state governments are now committed to an integrated river basin planning and management. This project responds to this demand by extending its reach to cover the entire country,” said Anju Gaur, Senior Water Resources Specialist and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the Project.