Source: The Hitavada      Date: 20 Aug 2017 10:25:01

ALMOST half of India is reeling under floods, causing massive destruction of human life and property. More than 33 lakh people have been affected by floods in Assam alone, which has witnessed third wave of floods. The situation is serious in Bihar, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh, where major rivers are in spate, inundating thousands of villages. Unfortunately, similar situation is witnessed almost every year, exposing lack of preparedness on the part of the disaster management authorities. Despite authorities chalking out plans to cope with heavy rains ahead of monsoon season, there is no end to the miseries of the flood-affected people, who are rendered homeless. They are forced to take shelter on tree-tops in the deluge, or, evacuated and lodged in temporary shelters put up by the Government.

The Government does come to the rescue of the flood-hit and offers them food packets, water, clothes etc. But, this is just a temporary measure. When floods recede, the people are left to manage on their own until the next season of flood fury. Why there is no effective flood-management system in place in the country? In some parts, floods occur even though there are no heavy rains. Take for example the case of Kosi river in Bihar. Kosi floods render thousands of people homeless every year, besides taking a huge toll of human life. The river crosses danger mark in Bihar whenever there are heavy rains in Nepal and excess water is released. Neighbouring countries should have regular exchange of information on water flow. China has also not shared hydrological data with India this year, raising concerns in India.

Nature alone is not responsible for flood havoc. Humans should also be blamed equally. No attention is paid to proper upkeep of age-old embankments. Often, river bed areas are encroached to construct houses, blocking the course of the river. No State has the capacity to store additional water. As a result, when there is an excess water during rainy season, there is water shortage in summers. A detailed survey of rivers should be undertaken to prepare flood-control plan. Interlinking of rivers should also be considered positively.