The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday informed the Bombay High Court that it would not be shifting the Doppler radar installed at Colaba, due to which the construction of around 400 buildings in south Mumbai has been stalled, to an alternative site. According to the IMD, shifting the radar to a location too far away will rob it of it very purpose: forecasting Mumbai's weather, for which it was installed after the 2005 deluge.
More than two weeks ago, the high court had asked the IMD and the state to clarify whether they intended to shift the radar out of Navy Nagar. The state government wanted the radar to be shifted so that it does not pose as a hindrance to construction of high-rises, and can be moved to an open area where it can function properly.
An affidavit filed by the in-charge of Mumbai Regional Meteorological Department, K S Hosalikar, said, "The Doppler radar is an echo-measuring device and operates on a micro wave frequency that requires clear line of sight in space between the atmosphere and the radar device. If the radar is installed at a far-away place then it will serve little purpose for forecasting of Mumbai region."
The affidavit further said that the radar is being operated since the year 1989 and in 2010, the Doppler radar was installed. The BMC had suggested 14 sites to the IMD for the setting up of the radar, but
considering the security reasons, the best available site was selected. Since the Doppler radar weighs 11,000 kg, shifting it would be difficult and the possibilities of it being damaged are high.
Advocate General Darius Khambata, who represented the state government, informed the court that the Doppler radar has to be shifted to an alternate site. "A solution has to be found. A modern city like
Mumbai cannot not have high-rise buildings (because of it). In all modern cities, there are high-rises and weather forecast is also done properly."
A division bench of Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Amjad Sayyed was hearing a petition filed by developer Redstone Realtors seeking directions to the state government to shift the Doppler radar outside of the proposed site. The bench directed the developer and Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry to submit a workable solution which can be considered as interim relief by Thursday. The court said, "The interim relief should not be of the nature that it will create problems in the future. At the same time, cost of stalled construction has to be taken into account."
To function properly, the Doppler radar needs an obstruction-less radius of 10 km. If the radar stays in Colaba, several under-construction buildings in four municipal wards where re-development is ongoing will be stalled.