The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is teaming up with state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to send extreme weather warnings to people, a senior Ministry of Earth Sciences official said.
The move comes after the IMD came under criticism from several quarters, including some state governments for not sending out specific alerts, a charge denied by the weather body.
"The IMD is trying to team up with BSNL to push the alerts to common people. The BSNL has come up with a technology. If the IMD sends an alert, they will pass it on to all BSNL numbers in Delhi (about an impending extreme weather event warning like thunderstorm, dust storm, heatwave)," M Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences told .
The area specific alerts will be sent to users if they are in that particular place where the extreme weather pattern is going to occur, even if their phone numbers do not belong to that particular telecom circle.
For instance, a BSNL user has travelled from Pune to Delhi, where an extreme weather event is forecast. The user will still get the message, Rajeevan said.
The exercise is being carried out on an experimental stage, and if successful the plan is to rope in other weather agencies as well, the official said.
Rajeevan, however, said the government agencies have limitations in disseminating information, especially in scenarios like thunderstorms wherein the entire weather pattern forms and wreaks its fury in two to three hours.
More than 200 people died due to thunderstorms across the country this month, with Uttar Pradesh alone witnessing half the deaths. In 2016, extreme weather had claimed lives of 1,600 people with heat wave topping the list.
"The IMD cannot reach to every individual. The IMD's job is to prepare the forecast. There should be some intermediary agencies who can take our forecast and pass it on to people," the official said.
The Prime Minister's Office had recently asked the weather body to advise people on the action they need to take when it issues severe weather warnings.