Did poor government handling in Kerala cause 2018 floods? Yes, says CAG

What is the news?

A recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out at the lapses in Kerala governments planning, capacity building, flood forecasting and dam management during 2018 state floods.

What are the key findings of the report?

Bureaucratic issues– The flood plains of Kerala had not been identified and restricted, and no large-scale flood hazard map was available in Kerala.

-The susceptibility map developed by the Kerala Disaster Management Authority did not conform to Central Water Commission (CWC) criteria for flood-prone areas.

-The continuing encroachments on river beds obstructed water flow during floods.

Policy issues- Kerala State Water Policy 2008 was not as per the National Water Policy. It lacked provisions for effective flood control and flood management.

Kerala govt had also not submitted the list of reservoirs or areas where the CWC had to establish inflow forecasting stations.

Structural issues- Disaster Management Plan of 2016 has provisions for a “State Emergency Operations Centre“. This centre is to predict and issue early warnings on hazards. However, the system failed in 2019 to do so.

This was because it was dependent on the receipt of externally sourced real-time data, which is yet to be made available.

The airport authorities failed to construct a diversion canal to carry the ‘Chengalthodu waters’ into the Periyar river to avoid riverine flooding the resident population.

Issues with Dams- No dam in Kerala had an EAP (Emergency Action Plan) despite the direction from the NDMA to have it by 2009. Siltation in major dams was another matter of concern.

The dam managers should not have solely relied on the India Meteorological Department (IMD) prediction for dam management.

Human resource related issues– A full-time residential training institute for civil defence was established at Thrissur 5 years ago, but it had not served the intended purpose.

-Ineffectiveness of Aapda Mitra was seen due to the procedural delays that resulted in emergency   responder kits being handed out by December 2019.

What other reports says about Kerala floods?

IISc Bengaluru released a study that finds faults in managing the water levels in the Kerala dams, as the main reason that aggravated 2018 floods. Also, there were no warnings about the amount of water reaching the dams.

About Aapda Mitra scheme– It is a central sector scheme for training the volunteers in disaster response. NDMA is the implementing agency for this scheme.

About Emergency Action Plan(EAP)– It is a written document prepared by each dam operator. It contains plans to prevent or lessen the impact of the dam’s failure or apparent structure.

Source: This post is based on the article “Did poor government handling in Kerala cause 2018 floods? Yes, says CAG” published in Down To Earth on 2nd Dec 2021.

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