ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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UTTAR PRADESH-Politics of Flood Relief vs Flood Control

UTTAR PRADESH Politics of Flood Relief vs Flood Control K R Krishna Gandhi THIS year, again, Uttar Pradesh has been ravaged by floods. Eastern Uttar Pradesh is the Worst affected region which had to face at least three major waves of floods this season. Currently the army is handling the relief opera- tions in Basti district. The situation in Gorakhpur district is said to be still grim. A few days back Gorakhpur town itself was in danger following breaches in the bund protecting ft from Rapti river. Ballia, Deoria, Azamgarh, Faizabad, Barabanki, Bahraicb and Gonda districts of Eastern UP have to face huge losses. At the beginning of the monsoon floods and waterlogging had played havoc in the Western UP districts of Mathura, Agra, Main- pun, Aligarh and Eta. According to the state government's figures (which don't take into account the losses due to the latest very severe flood attack in Eastern UP), the losses due to floods this year for the state were as follows: human lives lost 225, cattle dead 568, population affected over 9 million, affected villages more than 12,000 spread in 31 districts, land area affected 16.73 lakh hectares, crop area affected 5.78 lakh hectares, houses damaged over 75,000 (Pioneer, Lucknow, August 24). In a memorandum submitted to a Central, study team which had come to assess the situation arising out of the floods, the state government had estimated the total loss this year in public and private property at Rs 237.40 crore, out of which the maximum damage wis to standing crops which came to about Rs 75 crore. On the basis of these figures the state government had it-quested for Central assistance of the order of Rs 217 crore. Following the latest round of floods, the state government has said that it would request the Centre to send another study team to assess the situation. According to the latest state government figures, the loss to standing crops now comes to more than Rs 130 crore while the number of human lives lost is 352, the population affected 1.32 crore spread over 19,000 villages, with a land area of 28.16 lakh hectares, out of which 1475 lakh hectares are crop area, coming under floods (National Herald, Lucknow, September 25). These figures are an eloquent, testimony to the total bankruptcy of the state and Central governments' flood control policies since independence. Floods are a regular feature of the state, especially in the eastern parts of it, affecting millions of people and causing damage of the order of hundreds of crores of rupees year after year. Over the years, the situation instead of improving seems to be getting worse. During every one of the last three or four years floods have regularly visited the state, despite the government's professions of flood control. Vet there is no viable long-term policy to control floods in Eastern UP. The Union Minister for Agriculture, Rao Birendra Singh, told Lok Sabha on August 25 that the government was having talks with Nepal on the construction of barrages to prevent recurring floods in Uttar Pradesh. It may be mentioned here that these talks have been going on for the last 30 years or so with no visible progress. All this despite the fact that numerous studies at the government level have time and again pointed to the importance of flood control for improving the conditions of the people in Eastern UP. One such study by the state government dating back to the 1953-1958 period estimated that every year large land areas of the state, especially in the east, are affected by recurring floods Land area affected by low intensity floods would be not less than 23 lakh acres whereas medium and heavy intensity floods affect, respectively, 83 lakh acres and 100 lakh acres.

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