PUNE: As the farmers of Marathwada and Vidarbha sit down to count the huge losses and damages done to their farms and cattle after the hailstorm which lashed the region on Sunday, a pertinent question about the efficiency of the recently installed Pratyush, India’s fastest and first multi-petaflops computer, has been raised.
The computer worth Rs 450 crore which was installed at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in January this year was not involved in giving the forecast for the hailstorm. According to the sources from IITM, the computer does not give specific predictions but is used mainly in research and monsoon, forecasting thunderstorm, cyclone etc. However, IITM had mentioned that the purpose of this high capacity supercomputer is to accelerate weather forecasting in the country during its inauguration.
Project Director, Monsoon Data Mission and HPC, Sureshchandra Rao said, “We did predict the hailstorm as we had issued the warning. We are the nodal agency and are responsible for developing the application for weather and climate.”
The officials at IITM were reluctant to speak about the role of Pratyush in hailstorm prediction.
They kept insisting that the centre is more into research activity rather than prediction.
The alerts through messaging system regarding the weather forecasting too were not given to farmers leading to heavy losses of livestock. “We had advised farmers to put a hail net over the crop which is in the harvesting stage and keep the harvested crop in the dry place,” said Dr N Chattopadhyay, Scientist ‘F’ Head, Agriculture Meteorology Division, India Meteorological Department (IMD).
“For vegetables, we had advised putting the hail caps which are made up of hard cardboard,” added Chattopadhyay. He said, adding, “There are 1.30 crore farmers in Maharashtra and we could reach out to only to 55 lakh. We have regularly been telling the State government to create some mechanism so that we can reach out to all farmers.”
Chattopadhyay further added, “From last Thursday, systems started creating over the sea and we had predicted hailstorm in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and in parts of northern India. We also had correctly predicted that in Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha will get hailstorm.
“While predicting the weather, we consider accuracy and resolution as topmost priorities. We have our own defined system in place which helps us in making weather predictions,” he added.