Drone to help monitor embankments and save people trapped in floods

This year, along with working at the grass root level to deal with floods, the Bihar government is also focussing on the full use of state-of-the-art technologies.
Completed flood protection in Naruar, Bihar (Image Source: Water Resources Department, Government of Bihar, Twitter handle) Completed flood protection in Naruar, Bihar (Image Source: Water Resources Department, Government of Bihar, Twitter handle)

#HelloWRD: A social media campaign

Recently, the Water Resources Department launched the #HelloWRD campaign on social media to get information about the breach or erosion in embankments. The campaign calls out to people to inform the department if they notice any embankment breach or crack in their area through social media.

Using drones for surveillance

The Disaster Management Department has decided to monitor the embankments through drones. The officials of the department have informed that monitoring through drones will provide real-time information about the embankments, so that immediate repair works of embankments can be carried out. Along with monitoring the embankments, the drone will be also be utilised to find accurate location of people stranded in floods.

At present, the rescue operations are carried out on the basis of information received from the stranded people, but, as this location is known roughly, the search gets tough sometimes. However, with the help of drones accurate location of the stranded people will be available and they can be recovered immediately and taken to safer places.

District-level authorities informed to use drones

In this regard, Principal Secretary, Disaster Management Department Amrit Pratyay has written a letter to the District Magistrates and Divisional Commissioners of all districts.

In the letter, Amrit Pratyaya writes, "In view of the difficulties encountered during the search and rescue operations in an event like floods or other disasters, need for the use of drones is being felt. When people are stranded in remote areas during floods, there arise difficulties in the evacuation efforts due to unavailability of the exact position of the stranded people. However, with the help of drones, it will be easier to obtain the status of people trapped. Guidelines have already been issued regarding the operation of drones."

According to officials of the Disaster Management Department, the decision to make the use of drones for the aid of people stranded during floods and other disasters was approved in a meeting of the State Executive Committee which was held on June 22. The information regarding the decision has been disseminated to all the authorities at the district-level.

An official associated with the Disaster Management Department told India Water Portal, "At present, in the absence of a flood situation, our officials can reach to any location easily, so use of drones are not required at the moment. But, when the floods will arrive and our reach in the flood-hit areas will get limited, we will be making use of drones."

Ongoing flood protection work in Khajuli block of Madhubani district (Source: Water Resources Department, Government of Bihar, Twitter handle)

According to a bulletin issued by the Water Resources Department on the evening of July 8, Kosi River was flowing above the danger mark at Balatra station in Khagaria, but at the remaining flood monitoring stations in Bihar the rivers were flowing below the danger mark.

He further added, "There are 20-25 sensitive places in the entire state, where the breach of embankments are observed every year and severe floods are caused. In such sensitive places, drones will be put to use. ”

State suffers the fury of floods year after year

Floods occur almost every year in Bihar, especially in North Bihar, causing heavy loss of life and property. 76 percent of Bihar is flood prone. Last year, floods affected 88.46 lakh people of 1269 panchayats across 13 districts in the state while causing 130 deaths. Earlier in the 2018 floods, 15 blocks of three districts of Bihar were affected. Moreover, in these 15 blocks, there were 127 villages which were surrounded by flood waters from all four sides. Also, the crop worth Rs 513.65 lakh were completely destroyed in these floods and 23 people died.

Earlier in the year 2017, 214 blocks of 22 districts were hit by floods. In this flood, 815 people lost their lives and 8,57,036 people were taken to relief camps. Crop worth Rs 6,85,87 lakh were destroyed in this flood. Also, in the year 2016, floods had affected villages in 185 blocks in 31 districts and 458 lives were lost.

Experts believe that it is not possible to save crop losses from floods, however, the lives of people, cattle and people's property can be saved to a great extent, provided the information about the breach of embankments or rising water level is received in time and timely action is taken. In this sense, monitoring of embankments and locating stranded people through drones would prove to be an effective solution if implemented appropriately.

Reaching out

To support the Water Resources Department, Government of Bihar and the people of the state, India Water Portal wishes to lend its support by creating awareness about the campaign. Also, if you come across any embankment-related issues in your area, you can inform us via

Email | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Post to us 

We will take your complaints to the department so that necessary actions to combat floods can be taken. While posting your grievance, please do let us know your location to avoid any delays to the repair work.

You can read the article in hindi here. Authored by Umesh Kumar Ray; Translation to English: Swati Bansal

Lead image source: Water Resources Department, Government of Bihar, Twitter handle

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