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Lack of telecom network drops Tsho-Rolpa lake level updates

- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Jul 31, 2018-

Weak internet connectivity has slowed transmission of information on the threat of floods triggered by Tsho-Rolpa glacial lake because of its rising water level and potential outburst.

The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology’s (DoHM) Flood Forecasting Division Hydrologist Engineer Sunil Pokharel said the area has no mobile phone tower and no mobile internet. This makes transmitting data updates difficult.

“There is no mobile internet for relaying data about the water level in lake. We have to rely on the satellite communication, which is more expensive than mobile internet. It costs Rs 150 for one update,” he said.

The DoHM uses the services of Iridium Satellite Communication, an American company for updates on water level in the lake.

Expensive communication charges and no availability of mobile internet have dropped water level updates from Tsho-Rolpa Lake, one of the most vulnerable glacial lakes for outburst.

While the DoHM records water level updates from its other water-level monitoring stations generally every five minutes, such information flows from Tsho-Rolpa has dropped to a few times every day.

“Accessing water level data from Tsho-Rolpa is difficult and slower than our other stations. Had there been mobile internet, it would be easier and regular with simple technology,” said Pokharel.

The Tsho-Rolpa area has three such installations—one at the outlet of the lake; second in Beding village; and the third in Naa village.

The operation of the Naa village station is closed because of similar problem encountered in communicating data, largely because of the cost.

Lack of regular data transmission on water levels of Tsho-Rolpa poses a risk to the communities living downstream as various studies warn that Tsho-Rolpa, among other glacial lakes, has higher probability of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).

The advanced early warning system to measure water level was installed in the Tsho-Rolpa glacial lake following the Gorkha Earthquake on April 25, 2015. The aim was using the new system to alert authorities and communities nearby on the possible outburst of the glacial lake.

Experts had categorized the glacial lake as a potentially dangerous after cracks developed on its bottom following the earthquake.

The new system includes a sensor that automatically sends messages to mobile phones when the lake’s water level rises. In case of other possible dangers, a siren at Kirne Power House would buzz and warn local communities about the possible GLOF.

“The system could measure any sudden upsurge in the water level of the lake and also water flowing out whether it could cause floods downstream. Following the warning, people can quickly move to a safe place,” said Pokharel.

Published: 31-07-2018 08:09

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