CAG: Kerala has yet to enact legislation on flood zoning.
Thiruvananthapuram, November 11: A CAG report on Kerala’s flood preparedness and response ‘has said that the state has yet to enact floodplain zoning legislation, 45 years after the Union Government distributed to all states a draft model law for floodplain zoning legislation.
The CAG report, which was presented at the state assembly on Thursday, assessing the state government’s preparedness and response, was prepared in the context of the devastating Kerala floods in 2018, which left a trail of devastation on human lives and property in 13 out of 14 districts. In recent years, including 2021, many parts of Kerala had witnessed flash floods and landslides.
The report has pointed to serious flaws by the state government in planning, capacity building, flood forecasting, and dam management, among other areas.
The report said that floodplain zoning aims to demarcate zones or areas that may be affected by floods of different magnitudes or frequencies, and specify the types of development permissible in these zones so that whenever flooding occurs, the damage can be minimized, if not avoided.
“Kerala has not enacted floodplain zoning legislation, despite the fact that the Union Government distributed a draft model law for floodplain zoning legislation in 1975 to all states. The state’s floodplains have not been identified and demarcated. Legislation to identify and demarcate the state’s floodplain areas would have allowed the Government to take proactive measures to control possible invasion activities in the floodplains.”
He said that of the total area of the state, an estimated 14.52 percent is prone to flooding. However, there is no large-scale flood hazard map available in the state; The State Disaster Management Plan includes a flood susceptibility map that does not meet the Central Water Commission (CWC) criteria for flood-prone areas.
On the lapses on the planning and capacity development front, the report said that the Kerala State Water Policy 2008 was not updated in accordance with the National Water Policy and lacked provisions for flood control and water management. flooding in the state.
He said that although the 2016 Disaster Management Plan envisaged that the State Emergency Operations Center would be equipped with an intelligent decision support system (DSS) capable of predicting and early warning of the main hydrometeorological hazards and supporting the emergency operation, the system cannot be relied upon even two years after its completion in 2019 to give an early warning of such dangers, as its effective operation depends on the receipt of real-time data from external sources that are still Are not available.
On the impact of change in land use and land cover, the CAG report said that land use and land cover analysis for the entire Periyar basin, including the Idukki districts and Ernakulam, revealed an increase in built area by almost 450 percent during 1985-2015 and a decrease in water bodies by almost 17%. During 2005-2015, the built area increased by almost 139%. If the same rains and spills of 2018 had occurred with the conditions of land use of 1985, the area flooded by floods would have been reduced from 520.04 km2 to 414.76 km2.
In detailing the lapses in flood forecasting and reservoir operation, he said that only six rain gauges against the 32 gauge requirement (under existing BIS standards) are available for rainfall estimation in the Periyar basin by IMD.
Although the CWC had established 275 flood forecasting stations across the country for the year 2017, the CWC had not established any flood forecasting stations in the state. Kerala had not provided the CWC list of reservoirs/cities and towns that required the installation of inflow forecast stations/level forecast stations.