10 Reasons Why Assam Faces Floods Every Year | UPSC
Assam on stilts: The recurring story of damage and death
WHY IN NEWS:
10 Reasons Why Assam Faces Floods Every Year
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : 3 : Floods : Disaster Management
This is a comprehensive article on :
- Damage and losses
- Relevant Acts
- And of course the 10 Reasons ! Let us dive in . Take a pen and paper and note down the points you find important .
10 REASONS WHY ASSAM FACES FLOODS EVERY YEAR
RECURRING STORY OF DAMAGE AND LOSS
- Assam, every year in the last decade, has experienced floods that have led to the loss of human and animal life, destruction of crops, hunger and despair.
- The floods batter infrastructure, aggravating the already poor drainage system.
- The cycle of floods and skeletal rehabilitation continues, year after year.
- The topography of Assam and the meteorological factors do not absolve the state from this tragedy.
- There has been a long history of negligence and misplaced priorities of the authorities regarding the overflowing Brahamaputra.
- More embankments sprung up to protect the crops in flood-prone areas.
- The post-Independence era did not witness major changes in policies to deal with floods in the state.
ACTS PROTECTING RIVER
ASSAM EMBANKMENT & DRAINAGE ACT 1953
- The Assam Embankment & Drainage Act, 1953, was enacted by the State Assembly to build and maintain embankments after the major earthquake of 1950.
- The successive governments have spent nearly Rs 30,000 crore in building embankments over the last 60 years.
- Embankment failures have been common due to the increase in hydraulic pressure during monsoons.
- Yet, the policy seems to merely continue building embankments as the only solution to the recurring floods.
- Indeed, one of the reason is lack of proper analysis.
- Thus it is consequences is the absence of an integrated approach by the Centre and the state.
BRAHAMAPUTRA BOARD ACT 1980
- The Brahamaputra Board formed under the Brahmaputra Board Act, 1980.
- The board lacks coordination with the state government; New Delhi takes the decisions carrying on major operations.
- Similar lack of coordination can be seen between the Assam Disaster Management Authority and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
WHY ASSAM FACES FLOODS EVERY YEAR
- Brahmaputra is both a lifeline and a threat to Assam.
- Assam receives both the monsoon rains and water from the rivers originating from the Himalayas.
- Embankments confined rivers and cause them to rise higher and flow faster.
- The existing embankments and accentuate the impact of floods.
- The state loses around 8,000 square km of land to erosion due to flooding every year.
- The impact of climate change on Eastern Himalayas makes glaciers melt faster.
- The Brahmaputra brings huge volume of water, which leads to flooding every year.
- Bank erosion caused by the river Brahmaputra, Barak, and its tributaries in the state leads to serious consequences.
- This causes water to overflow in the low-lying areas every time a flood occurs.
- Chinese control over the river upstream has also ignited the issue.
- The dams in Assam mainly focus at the hydropower benefits and lack storage space for flood control.
MINING AND DREDGING
- In certain instances, authorities used dredgers to deepen the Brahmaputra.
- Many environmentalists say that these engineering processes are conducted with little or no environmental assessment.
- In 2004, Assam experienced flash floods of high magnitude due to cloud burst in the catchment areas in Meghalaya.
- Thus , resulting in overflowing of rivers and water streams.
- Reduced infiltration and increased runoff of rainwater due to unplanned urbanisation are said to be among the primary drivers of urban floods.
- Mountainous areas undergoing defrosting can result in increased amounts of water reaching the rivers, often increases the water table rapidly.
MAPPING AND SURVEY
- Hazard maps, which highlight areas that are vulnerable to floods or affected by floods, could help prevent serious damage and deaths.
- The spectacle of the blame game among the authorities has also become an annual feature .
- The need of the hour is to have a holistic strategic plan to break this cycle of misery.
- BETTER FLOOD FORECASTING : Information about floods forecasts must reach the affected villages in time.
- BANNING CONSTRUCTIONS : Ban all construction on low-lying floodplains.
- STRENGTHEN EMBANKMENTS : Create more room for the river, not restrict it.
How can we stop Mega Constructions around rivers? It is not making room for a river . River has its own room !