Environment & Ecology
In News: People in the Northeastern state are facing the fury of the Brahmaputra, Barak, and their tributaries.
- Nearly 100 people have lost their lives in the rain-induced landslides and floods that have engulfed 30 of Assam’s 35 districts
- The Centre and state government have commenced relief operations but the raging rivers have hobbled these activities.
Promises have rarely been matched by action in Assam
For more than half a century, Assam has relied on embankments to stave off the swelling rivers during the monsoons. A growing body of literature shows that these walled structures — most of them have not been repaired for decades — are ill-equipped to tackle floods, especially at a time when climate change is complicating the state’s hydrology. Assam’s flood management data shows that it needs to take such studies seriously.
- Close to 1,300 cases of embankment breaches have been recorded since 2000.
- Floods ripped apart nearly 200 embankments in 2020. This year, they have destroyed nearly 300 such structures.
- A report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources last year advised the state government to strengthen flood protection structures, address soil erosion and de-silt rivers. But these measures continue to be on the to-do list of the Assam government. In fact, the state’s flood management outlay has come down in the past two years.
The Way Forward
- The state government would do well to build people’s resistance to the elements in cities, towns and villages. Such measures include putting flood warning systems in place and shifting people and livestock to safer locations.
- Forming a de-siltation plan: The river is one of the important ingredients when it comes to drainage. The de-siltation plan is very expensive but it is needed.
- Sustainable usage of land: Low-lying areas in cities have to be reserved for parks and other low-impact human activities, restrict encroachments in natural drainage areas; clearance of river beds, and proper implementation of Coastal Regulation Zone rules. Planting drought-resistant and flood-resistant sturdy trees in vulnerable areas also helps.
- Utilising International best practices: Implementing ‘Mobile Walls’ like in Germany, and ‘sponge’ cities in line with cities in China which involves replacing concrete pavements with porous pavements to ensure better filtration.
- Policy making and city planning: Each city should have their Flood mitigation plans strongly embedded within the master plan of the city. There should be prompt, well-coordinated and effective response in case of urban floods to minimize casualties and loss of property and also facilitate early recovery.
- Wetlands protection: Urban flooding may increase if wetlands not protected. Centre for Science and Environment(CSE) has recommended strong laws to protect urban lakes, their catchment and feeder channels
- Idea is that a holistic plan should engage all the development partners. It should try to address all the issues and modify it as per local needs.
Source: The Indian Express
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