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India urges revival of mothballed weather center for Bay of Bengal climate cooperation

NEW DELHI: India’s prime minister announced on Wednesday a New Delhi-sponsored initiative to revive the cooperation of Bay of Bengal nations in addressing natural disasters and climate change.

Narendra Modi was speaking on the last day of a virtual three-day summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Corporation, hosted by Sri Lanka.

BIMSTEC is a regional organization comprised of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, and Thailand. All seven nations have been increasingly affected by climate change, with those having direct access to the Bay of Bengal experiencing extreme weather events such as cyclones, rising sea levels, flooding, drought, tidal surges, and coastal erosion.

“In this region the threat of natural disaster has always been there,” Modi told BIMSTEC representatives, and he called for the revival of a mothballed weather center that the countries had set up in 2014 for climate modelling.

“For cooperation in disaster management especially disaster risk reduction the Center for Weather and Climate is an important institution,” he said. “For the center to start functioning, India is willing to contribute $3 million.”

The BIMSTEC Center for Weather and Climate is located at the National Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting in the eastern Indian city of Noida.

Dr. Ashish Kumar Mitra from the Noida center told Arab News that India’s initiative to step up collective efforts in disaster management was a “good move,” as the region was home to some of the world’s countries most vulnerable to climate-change disasters.

“What is happening in the climate crisis is that the severe weather conditions have gone up. To predict the severe weather we have technology, but there is less cooperation. Through greater cooperation it will become effective,” he said. “Our problems are the same and greater exchange of information and data would help.”

Prof. S. Janakarajan, an environmentalist from the southern Indian city of Chennai, said Modi’s announcement of $3 million funding was a “progressive step,” but pointed out that studies should also look into environmental disasters induced by human activity, not climate change alone.

“This itself is not a bad idea. Nobody can question the intent of it and motivation is very good,” he added. “The key issue is what kind of action plans we have, what is the database we have to support the action plan?

“Most of the research we have in our country is discontinuous and not trying to look at the micro and macro pictures.”