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In a first in India, Avalanche monitoring radar installed in North Sikkim

An avalanche monitoring radar, the first of its kind in India, has been installed in North Sikkim by the Army and Defence Geoinformatics and Research Establishment (DGRE). It has the capability to detect avalanches within three seconds of its trigger and will assist in saving lives of troops and reducing damage to property in super high altitude areas.

The radar was inaugurated by Lt. Gen. Tarun Kumar Aich, General Officer Commanding of Sukna-based 33 Corps, on September 20 at one of the forward posts of the Army at an altitude of 15,000 feet in North Sikkim, one officer said.

The radar was made operational by DGRE, a laboratory under the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), which is involved in forecasting and mitigation of avalanche hazards faced by the Army in the Himalayan region.

Explaining its functioning, the officer said the radar uses a series of short micro wave pulses, which are scattered at the target and can detect an avalanche in under three seconds. “The radar can permanently scan the targeted slope for avalanche release and track the path of the avalanche and its size in case it is triggered,” he stated.

The radar can see through snow, fog as well as in the night, making it an all weather solution. It covers an area of two sq.km, obviating the requirement to place additional instruments in dangerous avalanche-prone areas, the officer elaborated.

The radar is also linked to an alarm system, enabling automatic control and warning measures in case an avalanche is triggered. Images and videos of the event are automatically recorded for future analysis by experts. Besides being used for detection of avalanches, this radar can also be employed to detect landslides, the officer added.