Flaws in India's tsunami warning system

India's Tsunami Early-Warning System in the Indian Ocean is close to completion, but authorities are clueless about how to circulate alerts. An interim system has been in place since July 2005 and the new information network got commissioned in October 2005. The National Disaster Management (ndm), which looks after the new Rs 125 crore network, is yet to find a way to spread the information among the target public. "We are still in a receptive mood. Why don't you give your suggestions?' asks Murli Kumar, director, ndm. Currently the system that the agency uses to spread alerts is complex. The data on changes in sea are generated by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (incois), Hyderabad. This information then goes to ndm, which passes it next to states for distribution in districts threatened by a tsunami.This means even a minor snap in the chain can affect the flow of information and cause danger. Short-circuiting this involved process, ndm is planning to use sirens, put up earlier along the Indian coast for cyclone warning, to spread alerts. The agency may also use networks of the Indian Meteorological Department. Still a system to alert people at the local level in emergencies is absent. incois says tsunami warning can be issued at the most two hours before it strikes. "We have been holding awareness programmes for two years,' they say.