JICA: The Department of Hydro Met will set up flood warning and weather stations along the Wangchhu Basin.

The Paro international airport and the capital city with its numerous historic monuments fall in the Wangchhu basin.

The department has so far installed such stations in Punatsangchhu and Mangdechhu basins considering that the rivers flow from most of the 25 potentially dangerous glacier lakes in the country.

“While the Wangchu basin doesn’t flow from such lakes, it has the international airport which is why the stations are essential,” hydrology division chief Karma Dupchu said.

A record rainfall in May 2009 triggered Cyclone Aila, which claimed 12 lives and destroyed properties worth USD 17 million. The Lemthang Tsho outburst and numerous floods have caused loss of crops and properties in various parts of the country.

A capacity development of glacial lake outburst flood and rainstorm flood forecasting and early warning project funded by Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will end this September.

A joint terminal evaluation team presented its project evaluation report yesterday.

The project installed two early warning monitoring stations with three sirens in Mangdechhu and three flood monitoring stations and six sirens were installed during the project.

There are 2,670 glacial lakes in the country, of which Mangdechhu and Chamkharchhu flow from seven and three each.

Besides enhancing the capacity of the agencies, the project improved weather and flood forecasting and early warning at the river basins with the risk of GLOF and rainstorm floods.

The project will complete with finalisation of standard of procedures on sharing forecast information and training on the use of installed equipment.

JICA dispatched nine experts in weather forecasting, meteorology, hydrology, flood hazard mapping, and early warning system planning, among others.

The weather stations can contribute meteorological data to the World Meteorological Organisation member countries.

The project also prepared hazard maps for the two basins.

“This project has brought together the agencies involved in disaster management and created good coordination which is key for effective response to disasters,” disaster management department director, Chador Wangdi said.

With the project completing soon, representatives from agencies like department of engineering services, hydro met, disaster management department and national land commission said a second phase project would

“With the infrastructure in place, we’re now looking in to how we can make the forecast impact-based meaning relating to agriculture and river volumes, etc,” hydro met services department Karma Tsering said.

The project was implemented in collaboration with the department of disaster management (DDM), department of geology and mines (DGM), and department of engineering services (DoES), along with national land commission secretariat (NLCS), in close consultation with local governments and vulnerable communities of Mangdechhu and Chamkharchhu basin.

The project was worth USD 4 million.

The hydro-meteorological services started with NORAD funding in 1990.

Tshering Palden