In a first, the Kerala government has issued an order to fund private firms for receiving weather updates and alerts about extreme climate changes, citing dissatisfaction with the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
In an order issued by the the state's Disaster Management Department on June 19, the government authorised a release of Rs 95 lakh to three private firms to use "ensemble predictions to improve extreme weather alert services in the State," reported The Hindu.
The order also stated that the solicited services would be part of a 1-year pilot project.
The three private companies that received funding from the state government are Skymet Private Ltd, Earth Networks and IBM Weather Company.
Following the 2019 floods, Kerala heightened its concerns about the state of extreme-weather preparedness in the state.
The government's fresh decision comes after an earlier order issued on April 30 where it reportedly said that it was dissatisfied with the IMD. The order stated that the weatherman had promised the state to ready 15 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) before the monsoon, however, no new AWS came up and the near-time data streaming remained minimum to nil.
The IMD’s inability to provide services were the reason to solicit the services of "reputed" private weather firms, the letter added.
A senior official associated with the IMD reportedly said that the weatherman was unable to give in to the state government’s requirement because of disagreements over the location of the AWS.
After Cyclone Ockhi claimed several lives in 2017, the IMD committed to installing 100 AWS, however, it could only be installed in lines with a pre-defined IMD protocol. The state government wanted the IMD to install AWS in a few places and it could not follow suit, said the official.
Skymet CEO Jatin Singh said that his company had already created an app called Kerala Rain to issue 15-day forecasts and "real time monitoring" for weather stations.