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

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Governing the Flood

Dealing with annual fl oods in prone areas needs more than just a disaster response.


Although floods are an annual natural occurrence, there is nothing natural about the official response to flooding of the Brahmaputra River in Assam. This year, the official death toll has risen to 77 and around 12 lakh people have been displaced. The 10 July report of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority reported that 20 districts, over 2,053 villages and around one lakh hectares of agricultural land have been inundated. Given the extent of the devastation caused by a natural disaster that is exacerbated by human interventions, it is time we accept that the focus must shift from flood protection to flood governance.

The floods in Assam, or for that matter Bihar, are distinct from those currently underway in Gujarat and Rajasthan whereextreme weather events caused the flooding. While the latter need prompt rescue and relief, the former must be tackled by a combination of structural interventions, institutional reforms, and comprehensive initiatives to build resilience in the riverine population. The vast stretch of alluvial plains from Maharajganj in eastern Uttar Pradesh to Karimganj in Assam’s Barak Valley has been frequently affected by multiple water hazards. This is a densely populated area stretching across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Assam. These four states account for 17% of India’s geographical area, but disproportionately account for 43%–52% of all flood-prone areas of the country.

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Updated On : 4th Sep, 2017
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