New Delhi: In the wake of heavy floods that shook Chennai in 2015, killing more than 500 people and displacing nearly 2 million, technology giant Google has said it will offer emergency 'flood alerts' on its maps and sites in India.
Google is putting efforts together to ensure availability of such information to people at the time of a natural disaster.
"Users in India can now find 'flood alerts' along with 'river level' information for more than 170 areas in which the Central Water Commission (CWC) has active observation stations," Google said in a statement.
These alerts are available on web search, Google Now Cards on the Google app, maps as well as Google Public Alerts homepage, it added.These can be accessed on desktop and mobile devices.
The alerts will be created and shared using data provided by the CWC, Google said.
"Timely information is the first step in disaster preparedness and has the potential to save thousands of lives lost to natural disasters each year," Google Product Manager Payal Patel said.
By making critical information more widely available to people, Flood Alerts will enable citizens across the country to make quicker and more informed decisions, she added.
In 2015, Google introduced 'cyclone alerts' to show information about cyclones in India. It offers information with details about the hazard, including a map and expected timeline, as well as tips on how to stay safe.
Among all the natural disasters that occur in India, floods are the most common. Chronic floods during the monsoon season on an average affect more than 30 million Indians annually.
According to the Central Water Commission (CWC), on an average 7.21 million hectares (roughly 72,000 sq km) go under floodwater annually.
This water typically ravages 3.78 million hectares of agricultural land, damaging crops worth Rs.1,118 crore annually. Heavy rains and floods also account for nearly 1,700 lives lost annually, the statement said.
Apart from this, 1.25 lakh houses are annually damaged by torrential rains that also wipe out nearly 96,000 livestock.
Ironically, 60 per cent of India's farmland, 66 per cent of its livestock and its entire forest area depend on rains for survival.
(With inputs from PTI)