Floods in Assam

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17-Jul-2017

What is the issue?

In Assam, floods have claimed more than 50 lives, nearly 18 lakh have been affected by it and most of the Kaziranga National Park was submerged.

How vulnerable is Assam?

  • According to the National Flood Commission of India (NFCI), about 40% of the state’s area is flood-prone.
  • The floods caused by the release of water in the Brahmaputra’s upstream have become a common monsoon bane in Assam.
  • Human-made factors have compounded this annual problem.
  • After the North East Electric Power Corporation opened up its dams to release water from the Ranganadi Hydro-electric Project, the problems have compounded.
  • The floods are also caused by the runoff of heavy rainfall during the monsoon and by the high sediment loads from upper watersheds that are geologically unstable and degraded.

Why the problem still persists?

  • Assam’s policymakers are well aware of the problems emanating from the Brahmaputra’s upstream.
  • However, the authorities have not yet come together to resolve the issue.
  • Even within Assam, agencies which should be working together to keep the floods in check, have operated along different lines.
  • While the state’s disaster management authority has correctly identified the geological instability, Assam’s water resource department continues to dwell on the discredited system of embankments.
  • But, the floods in the past have shown that when the Brahmaputra swells up, it puts pressure on the embankments, thus causing breaches.
  • Also, studies have also shown that the Brahmaputra changes course frequently.
  • It is virtually impossible to contain the river within the embankments.
  • The solution lies in dialogue between upper and lower riparian states. In this case, it is Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
  • The Brahmaputra is among the better studied of the country’s rivers, so, it is high time to put the research to practice.

What is National Flood Control Programme?

  • The National Flood Control Programme was launched in 1954 for the first time, in the country.
  • During the period of two decades, considerable experience had also been gained in planning, implementation and performance of the flood protection and control measures.
  • It then required detailed study of various problems concerned with flood control measures and aspects like soil conservation and afforestation.
  • Government, therefore, decided to set up the Rashtriya Barh Ayog (National Flood Commission of India) in 1976 to evolve a coordinated, integrated and scientific approach to the flood control problems.
  • And to draw out a national plan fixing priorities for implementation in the future.

 

Source: The Indian Express


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