Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday reviewed the Landslide Monitoring and Early Warning System developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi during his visit to Himachal Pradesh.

Developed by IIT Mandi’s Associate Professor, School of Computing and Electrical Engineering, Dr Varun Dutt and Assistant Professor, School of Engineering, Dr K.V. Uday, the device is a low-cost alternative to conventionally used monitoring systems and reduces landslides by predicting the soil movement in advance.

“The Landslide Monitoring System provides soil movement alerts via hooters and blinkers installed on the road remotely via text message. Additionally, the system sends rainfall alerts in advance if more than 5 mm of rain is predicted. Landslides are predicted 10 minutes before they actually occur by monitoring changes in soil movement. The system also predicts extreme weather events with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, ” said a release from IIT, Mandi.

The prototypical device was first deployed in July-August 2017 at an active landslide area on the Gharpa hill near IIT Mandi’s Kamand campus. The first field deployment was at Kotropi Landslide in 2018 with the support from the Mandi district administration.

The device’s utility was witnessed on July 27, 2018, when a tragedy was averted at Kotropi along the Mandi-Joginder Nagar national highway due to rains and a flash flood by the system.

Minutes before the disaster, the system issued a warning prompting the police to stop road traffic before a flash flood. The road was washed away due to the flash flood, but no one on the road was affected due to the timely warning, the release said.

The selling price of the system with its sensors and alerting mechanism is about Rs 1 lakh, which is nearly 200 times lower than a conventional counterpart that runs into crores of rupees. Four patents have been filed on the developed system and it will be made commercially available via a faculty-led startup, Intiot Services Pvt Ltd, India.

Until now, 18 systems have been deployed in Mandi district apart from three systems in Balianala (Nainital district), Uttarakhand, three at Dharampur along the Kalka-Shimla track of the Indian Railways, and, three systems at Sirmaur district, Himachal Pradesh.

Several other deployments are in the pipeline in several districts in Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Landslides are the third biggest natural disasters in the world, with India experiencing the biggest bulk of them – 15 per cent of India is prone to landslides. More than 5, 000 people are buried alive every year globally.

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