State level water management authority a necessity

An IIT-Madras professor has said that the government should form authorities at the State and basin levels to manage water. At present water sources are managed by different agencies, which results in lack of coordination during flood or drought.

“They should have river basins as boundaries, instead of districts, and should be entrusted with the task of managing waterbodies, flow and floods,” said S. Mohan, Professor of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, on Wednesday.

Referring to Chenna flood havoc, Dr. Mohan said that creation of a water authority would ensure effective water management. He felt that climate change could be one of the factors responsible for unprecedented flooding but it was also a hydrological phenomenon. In a hydrological cycle, flood tended to repeat itself over a cycle of roughly 30 years. The Chennai flood was a “good deviation from the normal,” and it could be a repeat of the 1976 floods, which ravaged the Adyar downstream.

He mooted the concept of ‘flood zoning’ by which areas vulnerable to flooding could be identified by studying earlier floods. People should be warned against constructing houses in these areas.

They should be clearly told that they would not be eligible to get compensation for any loss if they constructed houses there.

For existing buildings, the government could come out with alternative sites. Flood zoning, he said, should be done for all rivers, including the Vaigai.

With availability of proper transportation facilities, residential areas could move out to Sriperumpudur and Chengalpet.

Dr. Mohan insisted that water sources should be handed over to the armed forces during monsoon as was done in the US. “The US Army Corps take over waterbodies whenever there is warning of rainfall or floods and they help in rescue operations.”

According to him, it was not proper to blame the government agencies for tardy rescue operations as people were not properly trained for the job. It would not be possible to accurately forecast the amount of flood damage. With trained personnel, it should be easier to undertake rescue and relief operations in floods.

Rain and flood alerts and details of whom to call and where to take shelter could be sent over mobile phones and broadcast over radio and social media. One of the main reasons for Chennai choking under flood water was the damage caused to storm water channels, he said.

Prof. Mohan moots the concept of ‘flood zoning’ by which areas vulnerable to flooding could be identified by studying earlier floods.

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