Updated on 11 September, 2019
Floods in India
- The Maharashtra government is looking to put in place a ₹140-crore disaster risk management tool with the help of the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to reduce the damage caused by floods, as recently witnessed in parts of western Maharashtra.
- The platform is expected to collect and disseminate data, be applicable for pre and post disaster support while also devising a disaster vulnerability risk index.
- A similar system has been implemented in the Thailand Chao Phraya River Basin where flood management was improved in 1,60,000 sq. km.
Causes of Urban Floods Occurrence of floods can be attributed to many reasons including a steep increase in population, rapid urbanization, growing developmental and economic activities in flood plains coupled with global warming. Institutional Framework for flood management
- India is highly vulnerable to floods.
- Out of the total geographical area of 329 million hectares (MHA), more than 40 MHA is flood prone.
- An average every year, 75 lakh hectares of land is affected, 1600 lives were lost and the damage caused to crops, houses and public utilities is Rs.1805 crores due to floods.
- Though the subject of flood control, unlike irrigation, does not figure as such in any of the three legislative lists included in the Constitution of India.
- The primary responsibility for flood control thus lies with the states.
- National Disaster Management Authority:
- The Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act,2005) lays down institutional, legal, financial and coordination mechanisms at the national, state, district and local levels.
- The NDMA, as the main body under the GOI, has the responsibility of laying down policies, plans and guidelines for DM and coordinating their enforcement and implementation for ensuring a timely and effective response to disasters.
- It will approve the national DM plan prepared by the National Executive Committee (NEC) and plans of the central ministries and departments.
- National Executive Committee:
- The National Executive Committee (NEC) comprises the secretary to the GOl in the ministry or department having administrative control of the subject of DM, as its chairperson.
- It is the executive committee of NDMA and is statutorily mandated to assist the Authority in the discharge of its functions.
- National Disaster Response Force:
- The DM Act, 2005 has mandated the creation of a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
- The general superintendence, direction and control of this force shall be vested in and exercised by the NDMA and the command and supervision of the NDRF shall vest in an officer to be appointed by the central government as the Director General of the NDRF.
- Central Water Commission:
- The Central Water Commission (CWC) is an apex agency in the field of water resources including flood management in India.
- The River Management Wing headed by the Member (RM) and ex-officio Additional Secretary to the Government of India looks after FM in the country except for the Ganga and Brahmaputra river basins for which the GOI has created separate organizations.
- Member(RM) is required to advise the MOWR and also look after policy issues and other aspects of the FM in the whole country, including the Ganga and the Brahmaputra basins.
- This wing is also responsible for flood forecasting and hydrological observation network in the country.
- State Disaster Management Authority:
- At the state level, the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), headed by the chief minister will be established by the state governments to lay down policies and plans for DM in the state.
- State Executive Committee
- District Disaster Management Authority:
- The District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) headed by the District Magistrate, will act as the planning, coordinating and implementing body for DM and take all necessary measures for the purposes of DM in the district in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the NDMA and SDMA.
- Local Authorities:
5. State Disaster Response Force
- PRIs and ULBs will ensure capacity building of their officers and employees in DM, carry out relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in the affected areas and will prepare DM plans in consonance with the guidelines of the NDMA, SDMAs and DDMAs.
Problems with flood management in India
- The DM Act, 2005 has mandated the creation of an SDRF.
- Multiple agencies - Agencies which should be working together to keep the floods in check, have operated along different lines.
- Constitutional ambiguity - States do not take the problem seriously since there is no mention of flood management under union, state or concurrent list.
- Instances of urban floods are on the rise but urban local bodies and state governments seem to be lacking in experience and resources in tackling them.
- No National Flood Management Institute - Various Institutes and academic institutions deal with different aspects of water resources. There is, however, no national or state level institution dealing with all facets of FM exclusively and in a holistic and comprehensive manner. Such an Institute is required as it can serve the purpose of imparting training to the engineers and administrators of the central government and the state governments in all fields of FM.
Read More: Urban Floods | What is a flood | Causes of Water Scarcity | Cycle of extremes: On droughts and flood
- Mapping of the flood prone areas is a primary step involved in reducing the risk of the region. Historical records give the indication of the flood inundation areas and the period of occurrence and the extent of the coverage.
- Land use control will reduce danger of life and property when waters inundate the flood plains and the coastal areas.
- The number of casualties is related to the population in the area at risk. Hence, in areas where people already have built their settlements, measures should be taken to relocate to better sites so as to reduce vulnerability.
- No major development should be permitted in the areas which are subjected to high flooding. Important facilities like hospitals, schools should be built in safe areas. In urban areas, water-holding areas can be created like ponds, lakes or low-lying areas.
- The buildings should be constructed on an elevated area. If necessary build on stilts or platform.
- The amount of runoff can be decreased with the help of reforestation, protection of vegetation, clearing of debris from streams and other water-holding areas, conservation of ponds, and lakes etc.
- Flood diversion measures like construction of levees, embankments and dams should be undertaken.