Should IMD give away meteorological data for free ?

Should IMD give away meteorological data for free ?

India Water Portal has a meteorological data tool (https://www.indiawaterportal.org/data/metdata) that gives rainfall data (and 10 other meteorological parameters) for each district of India for 100 years from 1901 to 2002. Over the past couple of years, many many people have expressed that they found this data useful and requested us to enhance it. The data on our meteorological data tool is from a research dataset put out by the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research in the University of East Anglia, UK. The reason we got the data from them, is that IMD, India Meteorological Department, which is the chief source of official meteorological data in India, sells this data. To get the kind of all India data above, would be prohibitively expensive. Further, they would not allow this data to be made publicly available, as they sell the same.

Recently a RTI application was filed that resulted in questioning this policy of IMD of selling rainfall data, which is quite vital for several planning decisions in many contexts (eg. crop patterns, construction of watershed structures, construction of rainwater harvesting structures, studies of climate change etc.). The Central Information Commission has agreed that atleast a subset of this data (specifically rainfall information for all districts for the past 5 years) should be made available for free.  The Central Information Commission has directed the Director General of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to review IMD policy and make a written submission within one month "about the arrangements that will be made for free access and dissemination of"district wise rainfall data for at least the last five years. The RTI application was filed by Bipin Chandra of SANDRP (South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers and People, www.sandrp.in) , and you can read the official notification from CIC at their website here. Also read the SANDRP press release on this here. According to Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP, while the IMD is quite efficient at providing a wide range of meteorological data through a payment mechanism, rainfall information for the last 5 years is critical data that should be made widely available. Further, some states, eg. Maharashtra, have independantly started making extensive meteorological information available free on the web. So there is also a precedent for this. In this context, we at India Water Portal feel that it would be useful to gather a cross-section of opinion from people in the water sector on their need for this kind of data and whether they agree that this information should be in the public domain. We would collect these resposnes and forward to CIC and IMD to provide them with a concrete idea of the kind of uses that various people have, for meteorological data in the country. We request you to add a comment to this post, if you use meteorological data. Please explain why you need meteorological data for your work, and whether you feel it is appropriate for the rainfall data for the last 5 years for all districts to be made available free by the IMD.

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