Q. Climate change and poor planning can be cited as main reasons for recent floods in the Northeast part of India. Discuss and suggest effective measures.
Decode the Question:
- Start with the reasoning why floods occur in the Northeast part of India.
- Discuss the climate factors and planning factors responsible for floods.
- Suggest some measures to mitigate the effects of floods.
- Conclude with a suitable note.
Submit your answer and get it checked by our mentors
Model Answers will be uploaded by the end of the day
The North Eastern region of India is extremely vulnerable to natural hazards like earthquakes, floods, landslides etc.
Every year during the monsoon season, the region experiences worst fury of nature in the form of Brahmaputra River flooding and erosion along its banks, devastating large areas of habituated landform and damaging agrarian lands, especially Guwahati city experiences its worst impact in the form of flash floods every year.
Apart from incessant rainfall during the monsoon, there are many contributory factors, natural and man-made. Silt deposited by the river Brahmaputra in floodplains surrounded by hills on all sides leading to erosion and floods. Habitation, deforestation, population growth in catchment areas (including in China) lead to higher sedimentation.
It is common for people to settle in such places, which restricts the space the river has to flow. When rainfall is heavy, it combines with all these factors and leads to destructive floods. This happens very frequently. The north-eastern regions are becoming increasingly fragile due to the exponential rise in climate extremes.
Main reasons for recent floods in Northeast part of India:
- A combination of La Nina in the Pacific and a negative Indian Ocean Dipole in the Indian Ocean has strengthened the winds blowing from the southwest to the northeast (southwesterlies) in the Bay of Bengal.
- These strong monsoon winds in the Bay of Bengal can now carry much more moisture than ever before, in response to global warming. The volume of atmospheric moisture increases with rising temperature because warmer air holds more moisture and for longer.
- These winds dumping rains over Bangladesh and northeast India have been exceptionally strong.
- Poor embankment construction: These are weak and are regularly breached. Embankments are a temporary solution, and they are as good as their management. Usually when embankments are breached, villages inside embankments (between the river and embankments) are affected and are supposed to be evacuated. But this year, villages lying outside embankments in Darrang district, the very land the embankments were supposed to protect, were engulfed by floods. No preparation is done for such villages.
- Not updated District Disaster Management Plans (DDMP): Ensuring updation of the DDMPs and, more importantly, its practical implementation can help manage floods better. But these are not updated regularly. Only 7 per cent of the districts have updated their disaster management plans (DDMP) until 2020 in Assam. These types of poor planning factors led to diminish the mitigation efforts.
- Strengthen embankments along the Brahmaputra and other rivers: Most embankments built in the 1980s are not strong enough. Since they were temporary measures, the government did not spend on high-specification embankments. These are weak and are regularly breached.
- Dredging of rivers: increasing the water-holding capacity of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries by dredging may help. This could be done in consultation with all stakeholders. This would also boost and benefit the state’s economy.
- Modern weather stations set up: Centre to set up modern weather stations in the upstream catchment of all dams in the North East and install sirens on river banks near dams. This would alert downstream populations in the event of floods.
- Afforestation and rejuvenation of wetlands: These measures can help to mitigate floods.
- Inclusion of river erosion in the admissible list of calamities: The government should consider the inclusion of river erosion in the admissible list of calamities for availing assistance under the National Disaster Response Fund / State Disaster Response Fund.
- Manpower strengthening: Brahmaputra Board, which has been functional since 1982, does not have enough manpower. It had asked the board to fill up all vacant posts on a priority basis
- Enactment of flood plain zoning bill: The bill envisages the zoning of the flood plain of a river according to flood frequencies and defines the type of use of flood plains.
- Setting up of River Basin Organizations: These would effectively provide immediate, short-term and long-term solutions in addition to the overall development of the river basin.
- River Basin Management Authority: prioritise and enact the River Basin Management Authority for holistic management of water resources of each river basin.
- Integrated basin management system: bring in all the basin-sharing countries on board. For that, interstate relationships, political cooperation and the role of the government are important.
Despite significant outlay on flood control, flood protection and catchment protection works, it has been found that there is no complete solution to providing total protection. Flood cushions in the reservoirs and flood embankments have provided good solutions for recurring floods and have provided relief to large-scale flood damage.
Flood forecasting provided by the Central Water Commission has played a significant role in minimizing flood damage and saving human lives.
The Odisha model to deal with natural calamity can be helpful.