IFLOWS-Mumbai: Flood Warning System for Mumbai

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Context: The Flood Warning System formally launched jointly by Honorable Shri Uddhavji Balasaheb Thackeray Hon Chief Minister, Government of Maharashtra and Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Hon Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, Govt of India



Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains: GS III

  • Disaster and disaster management.
  • IFLOWS-Mumbai is developed as a state of art Integrated Flood Warning system for Mumbai to enhance the resilience of Mumbai by providing early warning for flooding especially during high rainfall events and cyclones.
  • IFLOWS is a monitoring and flood warning system that will be able to relay alerts of possible flood-prone areas anywhere between six to 72 hours in advance. 
  • Mumbai is the second city only after Chennai to get this system.
  • Similarly, the system will be developed for Bengaluru and Kolkata.
Best Practice for flood control: Netherlands’ ‘Room for the River’ project
  • The Netherlands has historically been prone to flooding of rivers due to its low elevation. Much of the country lies below the sea level. The country is located in the delta region of several major rivers like the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt.
  • The basic premise of the ‘Room for the River’ project is essentially to provide more space for the water body so that it can manage extraordinary high water levels during floods. 
  • Among the nine measures which define the project are lowering the flood plain, deepening the summer bed, strengthening of dykes, relocation of dykes, reducing the height of the groynes, increasing the depth of the side channels, and removing obstacles.
  • A key aspect of the project is also to improve the surroundings of the river banks through fountains and panoramic decks. The landscapes are altered in a way that they turn into natural sponges that can accommodate excess water during floods.


Ministry and Departments involved
  • Ministry:
    • Ministry of Earth Sciences, in close coordination with Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai  
  • Other Participants:
    • The system incorporates weather models from the National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), India Meteorological Department (IMD), field data from the rain gauge network of 165 stations set up by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), and BMC.
India Meteorological Department (IMD):
  • About:
    • Formed in 1875, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is the national meteorological service of the country and it is the chief government agency dealing in everything related to meteorology, seismology, and associated subjects. 
    • The administrative responsibilities of the Department are under the supervision of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Indian Government. The IMD is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • Function:
    • Taking meteorological observations and providing current information and forecasting information for the most favorable operation of weather-dependent activities such as irrigation, agriculture, aviation, shipping, offshore oil exploration, and so on.
    • Giving warnings against severe weather phenomena such as tropical cyclones, dust storms, heat waves, cold waves, heavy rains, heavy snow, etc.
    • Providing met-related statistics needed for agriculture, industries, water resources management, oil exploration, and any other strategically important activities for the country.
    • Engaging in research in meteorology and allied subjects.
    • Detection and location of earthquakes and evaluation of seismicity in various parts of the country for developmental projects.



How will it work?
  • The system can provide all information regarding possible flood-prone areas, likely height the floodwater could attain, location-wise problem areas across all 24 wards, and calculate the vulnerability and risk of elements exposed to flood.
  • The system has provisions to capture the urban drainage within the city and predict the areas of flooding. The system comprises seven modules- Data Assimilation, Flood, Inundation, Vulnerability, Risk, Dissemination Module, and Decision Support System.
  • The system has provisions to capture the urban drainage within the city and predict the areas of flooding.
Why was this system needed in Mumbai?
  • Urban flooding is common in the city from June to September, resulting in the crippling of traffic, railways, and airlines. As a preparedness for floods before they occur, the system will help in warning the citizens so that they can be prepared in advance for flooding conditions.
  • The recent flood on 29 August 2017 had brought the city to a standstill. Last year, post-monsoon and unseasonal rainfall as late as October, two tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea had caught authorities off guard and left a trail of destruction.
  • All this information will then be routed to authorities. 
  • The early warning forecast would include alerts on rainfall information, tide levels, storm surge for low-lying areas anticipated to be affected, thereby minimizing the damage from cyclones and heavy rain events in Mumbai by evacuating people to safe areas. 
  • The system, initially only to be accessed by the civic body will enable them to issue alerts for citizens who can then avoid such zones.
  • According to the ‘Global Report on Internal Displacement 2020’, nearly 5 million people were displaced in India in 2019 because of disasters related to southwest monsoon and cyclones.

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