Thiruvananthapuram, Nov. 11: The CAG’s flood preparedness and response report in Kerala says the state has yet to pass floodplain zoning legislation, 45 years after the Union government circulated a model floodplain zoning legislation bill to all states.
The CAG report, presented at Thursday’s state meeting, assessing the state government’s preparedness and response, was prepared amid devastating floods in Kerala in 2018, which left devastating consequences for lives and property in 13 countries. from 14 districts. In subsequent years, including 2021, floods and landslides have occurred in many parts of Kerala.
The report highlighted major oversights on the part of the state government in planning, capacity building, flood forecasting and dam management, among other areas.
The report states that floodplain zoning aims to delineate zones or areas that may be affected by floods of different magnitude or frequency, and indicate the types of acceptable development in these zones so that whenever floods do occur, damage can be minimized, if not escaped. “Kerala did not pass a floodplain zoning law, although a model floodplain zoning bill was sent out by the Union government in 1975 to all states. The floodplains of the state have not been identified and delineated. Legislation to identify and demarcate floodplains in the state would enable the government to take proactive measures to combat potential floodplain encroachments. ”
It says that of the total area of the state, 14.52% are prone to flooding. However, the state does not have a large-scale flood hazard map; The state’s disaster management plan includes a flood vulnerability map that does not meet the Central Water Commission (CWC) criteria for flood prone areas.
In terms of planning and capacity building omissions, the report states that Kerala’s Water Policy for 2008 was not updated in line with the National Water Policy and did not include provisions for flood control and flood management in the state.
It states that while the 2016 Disaster Management Plan called for the State Emergency Operations Center to be equipped with an Intelligent Decision Support System (DSS) capable of predicting and early warning of major hydrometeorological hazards and supporting emergency operations situations, the system cannot be relied upon, even two years after its completion in 2019, to provide early warning of such dangers, as its effective operation depends on receiving real-time data from external sources that were not yet available.
Regarding the impact of land-use and land-cover changes, the CAG report states that an analysis of land use and land cover for the entire Periyar Basin, including the Idukki and Ernakulam areas, found an increase in built-up area of almost 450 percent during 1985. 2015 and a decrease in water bodies by almost 17%. Between 2005 and 2015, the building area increased by almost 139 percent. If the same precipitation and spills had occurred in 2018 under the 1985 land use conditions, the flooded area would have decreased from 520.04 sq. Km up to 414.76 sq. Km.
Describing in detail the errors in flood forecasting and reservoir operation, it states that only six rain gauges are available for the IMD estimate of precipitation in the Periyar Basin, if 32 sensors are needed (according to existing BIS regulations). Although the CWC has established 275 flood forecasting stations nationwide by 2017, the CWC has not established flood forecasting stations in the state. Kerala did not provide a list of CWC reservoirs / cities and towns requiring the establishment of inflow forecasting stations / level forecasting stations.