In the backdrop of massive destruction in Uttarakhand due to flash floods, the country’s disaster management chief today said lives could have been saved if the weather office had issued precise forecasts.

“They (India Meteorological Department) need to develop a more precise observational and forecasting capability,” M Shashidhar Reddy, Vice Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said here.

He said IMD followed a standard format of weather forecast and used certain terminologies like rainfall, heavy rainfall, but “how are we supposed to translate it into action? They need to pinpoint where and how much it is going to rain.”

Reddy was addressing the inaugural session of the South Asia Regional Consultation on Climate Change Adaptation.

When asked about CAG’s criticism of NDMA’s functioning in its recent report, Reddy admitted to gaps in disaster preparedness level of the agency.

“As far as our shortcomings are concerned, we are ready to work on it,” he said, adding that the government auditor needed to be sensitised about disasters.

“There is a table in the CAG report which lists India’s major disasters in the last ten years and I am surprised they haven’t mentioned the 2005 Mumbai floods which indicate that people in CAG need to become sensitive,” he said.

David Mcloughlin, Deputy Representative, UNICEF India and Convener of India’s United Nations Disaster Management Team, lauded the government’s efforts in carrying out the rescue operations.

Mcloughlin said, “Government’s response to the crisis was robust given the criticality of the situation, difficult geographical structure and the large number of people involved. But I feel the government has done exceptionally well in handling this crisis.”

He also emphasised on developing community resilience, which would help to prepare individuals for disaster at the local level.

“For this, we have been doing workshops which are meant to make people aware about the outcome of their actions and also to prepare them for such calamities,” he said.

More than 140 delegates from eight SAARC member nations, including representatives from national governments and United Nations had gathered for a four-day consultation focusing on climate change adaptation.

The event is organised by the United Nations Disaster Management Team and UNICEF in coordination with the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest, Ministry of Home Affairs, NDMA and SAARC Disaster Management Centre.