Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Flood Update V of 2011 from WIO

Flood Update V  from Water Initiatives Odisha

14th September 2011

Time to Walk Back to 1975!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

This is a quick and short update on the Odisha Floods to inform you that we have just urged upon the Govt. of Odisha to start action on the "Model Bill on Flood Plain Zoning'.  

Yesterday, we heard from media reports that the Secretary, Water Resources of the Govt. of Odisha has issued a letter to Bhubaneswar Development Authority and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation to take strong steps and see that no residential areas are built on flood plains.  While Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) has welcomed this move, we find it too little a step to solve the increasing flood menace in the state.

We would like to remind that way back in 1975 the Central Water Commission (CWC) had circulated a “Model Bill on Flood Plain Zoning” for the state governments to take it up as a model for freeing flood plains from encroachments by empowering the authorities appropriately.  However, 36 years have passed and nothing seems to have moved on that front in the state.    

The CWC had circulated the model Bill to all the states to help the state governments enact appropriate legislation. This Bill, if enacted, will have provisions like replacing dwellings in low-lying areas by parks and playgrounds so that vulnerability in terms of loss of life and property could be reduced.  As per information available with us, the Bill had grouped different types of buildings and utility services under three priorities from the point of view of damage likely to occur.  The model Bill provided clauses about flood zoning authorities, surveys and delineation of flood plain area, notification of limits of flood plains, prohibition of the use of the flood plains, compensation and most importantly removing obstructions to ensure free flow of water.

We have just urged upon the Govt. of Odisha to immediately enact a legislation following the Model Bill, after ensuring proper discussion with the people of the state.  As an immediate measure, before this process takes place, we urge upon the Govt. to issue strict circulars to all urban bodies and other related authorities of the state to remove encroachments from flood plains by entering into ‘free prior informed dialogue and consent’ process with the would be affected communities and adhering to best rehabilitation packages. 

The Govt. of India, under its Minister of Environment and Forests, had recently proposed to issue a River Regulation Zone notification to protect riverbeds from any harmful constructions in future.  We have also urged upon the Govt. of Oidsha to take a proactive action to pursue the Govt. of India to put this plan in public and initiate discussion with each state and the people of the country and bring into force a strict River Regulation Zone which can help in proper river basin planning and management and hence help rivers from further dying and also in reducing flood furies.

Our regular Flood Updates will follow.

Thanks and regards,

Ranjan Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha


Water Initiatives Odisha: Fighting water woes, combating climate change... more than two decades now!

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