Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security


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The administrative control and responsibility for development of water rest with the various state departments and corporations. The National Water Policy adopted by the National Water Resources Council in April highlights the provisions for project planning, surface- and groundwater development, irrigation and flood control.

Irrigation plays a major role in increasing the production of food grains. The policy provides following directives for irrigation management:. The following provisions exist in National Water Policy as regards flood control and moderation:. River-valley projects serve a basic necessity of a country whose economy is based largely on agriculture. Irrigation and power are crucial inputs for increased productivity.

A high priority has, therefore, been given in the national planning process to the creation of river-valley projects ever since India gained independence. As stated earlier, of all natural disasters, drought affects the greatest number of people in the world, especially in India. The occurrence of drought cannot be prevented but being well prepared for its likely occurrence can lessen its impacts.

Droughts have two basic components: climatic decrease in precipitation and demand use of water.

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In responding to droughts, governments tend to concentrate most of their efforts on reducing the demand for water, although there are limited options for controlling the climatic component. Thus, drought-planning strategies should have a clear objective and purpose; involve stakeholder participation; have a good inventory of resources; identify groups at risk; be able to integrate science and technology with policy; publicize the proposed plan and invite public responses; and have an appropriate education programme.

The long-term measures for drought mitigation would normally include creation of ground- and surface-water storages, integration of small reservoirs with major reservoirs, integrated basin planning; inter-basin transfer of water, etc. Long-term adaptation involves the development of community-based natural resources management plans, developed and implemented through a participatory approach, and making full use of traditional knowledge.

Water used for irrigating fields near Maniyampadi. The water comes from a diesel engine driven pump and is also used for drinking and cooking. Thus, most measures focus on management, re-allocation and distribution of existing water resources and on establishing priorities accordingly for different uses.


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Commonly known means adopted for combating drought and promoting development are:. Many major, medium and minor water-resources projects have been constructed over the past six decades. Sustained efforts so far have ensured considerable progress, but there is still a long way to go to ensure water for all in adequate quantity and quality. The problems are further compounded by fresh issues that have surfaced over the last few years.

The behaviour of the monsoon is usually erratic and uncertain in India. Kharif summer crop production depends on the quantum and distribution of rainfall. The behaviour of monsoon is broadly classified as:. The preparations for dealing with such situation, which is necessary to maintain from year to year, are:. It is the creeping effect of drought over long periods and its severity that sensitized the Government of India to treat the problem from several angles—scientific, technological, economic, social and environmental. Some of the initiatives taken for drought management by the Government are:.

Approaches to dealing with floods may be any one or a combination of the following available options:. The main thrust of the flood protection programme undertaken in India so far has been an attempt to modify the flood in the form of physical structural measures to prevent the floodwaters from reaching potential damage centres and modify susceptibility to flood damage through early warning systems.

Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security

The following structural measures are generally adopted for flood protection:. Of these measures, embankments are the most commonly undertaken in order to provide quick protection with locally available material and labour. These embankments play an important role in providing reasonable protection to vulnerable areas. Realizing the great potential of the reservoirs in impounding floods and regulating the flows downstream for flood moderation, flood control has been sought to be achieved as one of the objectives in multipurpose dams.

Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security by Jeroen Warner, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

Reservoirs with a specifically allocated flood cushion have been constructed on the Damodar system in Jharkhand and the Hirakud and Rengali dam in Orissa. However, many other large storage dams, e. Bhakra dam, without any earmarked flood storage, have also helped in flood moderation. These large dams have played a significant role in reducing damage by way of flood moderation. One of the important flood moderation examples achieved by dams is that of Damodar Valley, where four reservoirs were constructed with flood management as one of the objectives.

During the monsoon, DVC reservoirs saved the life and property of people from a possible disaster through flood moderation. Barring occasional breaches in embankments, these works gave reasonable protection to an area of some A brief description of the most important measure, i. As for the strategy of laying more emphasis on non-structural measures, a nationwide flood forecasting and warning system has been established by the Central Water Commission.

Flood forecasting and flood warning in India commenced in a small way in the year with the establishment of a unit in the Central Water Commission, New Delhi, for flood forecasting for the river Yamuna at Delhi. This has now grown to cover most of the flood-prone interstate river basins. The forecasts issued by the Central Water Commission have been consistent with about 96 per cent accuracy as per the present norms of the Central Water Commission. The Central Water Commission is making a constant endeavour to update and modernize forecasting services on a continuous basis to make flood forecasts more accurate, effective and timely.

Initiatives being taken for modernizing flood forecasting services are:. India has traditionally been vulnerable to natural disasters on account of its unique geoclimatic conditions. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides have been recurrent phenomena. The loss in terms of private, community and public assets was astronomical. Over the past couple of years, the Government of India has effected a paradigm shift in its approach to disaster management.

The new approach derives from the conviction that development cannot be sustainable unless disaster mitigation is built into the development process. Another cornerstone of the approach is that mitigation has to be multi-disciplinary, spanning all sectors of development. The new policy also emanates from the belief that investments in mitigation are much more cost-effective than expenditure on relief and rehabilitation. The steps being taken by the Government emanate from the approach outlined above. This has been translated into a National Disaster Framework roadmap covering institutional mechanisms, a disaster prevention strategy, early warning systems, disaster mitigation, preparedness and response and human resource development.

The expected inputs, areas of intervention and agencies to be involved at the national, state and district levels have been identified and listed. The institutional and policy mechanism for carrying out response, relief and rehabilitation has been well-established since independence. These mechanisms have proved to be robust and effective. At the national level, the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal ministry for all matters concerning disaster management. The Central Relief Commissioner in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal officer to coordinate relief operations for natural disasters.

In the event of a natural disaster, the CMG meets frequently to review relief operations and extend all possible assistance required by the affected states to overcome the situation effectively. The Resident Commissioner of the affected state is also associated with such meetings.

A national Contingency Action Plan CAP for dealing with contingencies arising in the wake of natural disasters has been formulated by the Government of India and is periodically updated.

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It facilitates the launching of relief operations without delay. These are reviewed and updated periodically, based on the experience of managing the disasters and the needs of the state.


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The policy and funding mechanisms for providing relief assistance to those affected by natural calamities are clearly laid down. They are reviewed by the Finance Commission appointed by the Government of India every five years. The Finance Commission makes recommendations regarding the division of tax and non-tax revenues between the central and state governments and also regarding policy for provision of relief assistance and their share of expenditure thereon.

A Calamity Relief Fund has been set up in each state as per the recommendations of the 11th Finance Commission. The size of the Calamity Relief Fund was fixed by the Finance Commission after taking into account the expenditure on relief and rehabilitation over the past 10 years. Tropical cyclones are intense low-pressure systems which develop over warm sea. They are capable of causing immense damage due to strong winds, heavy rains and storm surges.

The frequency of a tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal is four to five times more than in the Arabian Sea. The India Meteorological Department is mandated to monitor and give warnings of tropical cyclones. The monitoring process has been revolutionized by the advent of remote-sensing techniques. A tropical cyclone intensity analysis and forecast scheme has been worked out, using satellite image interpretation techniques which facilitate storm surge forecasting.

The meteorological satellite has made a tremendous impact on the analysis of cyclones. Dams and reservoirs have played a major role in moderating flood-peaks and providing safeguards for drought mitigation. Case-studies of two such projects are presented below:. It is the first post-independence major multipurpose river valley project in India. Installed capacity for power generation is Hirakud reservoir has no earmarked flood storage. The entire available storage during monsoon is utilized for flood moderation and subsequently used for irrigation purposes and hydropower generation.

Hirakud dam was to provide adequate flood protection to the delta from all but extraordinary floods. With the construction of Hirakud dam, the swollen waters of Mahanadi in the monsoon period have been tamed to a great extent. In the 90 years before the construction period during , 27 years witnessed high floods in the delta whereas, in the post-construction period during the last 41 years , floods in the delta were reported in only 7 years.

From the above, it can be seen that about per cent flood moderation has been achieved by Hirakud dam.

Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security
Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security
Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security
Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security
Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security Flood Planning: The Politics of Water Security

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