10 Reasons Why Assam Faces Floods Every Year | UPSC

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10 Reasons Why Assam Faces Floods Every Year

10 Reasons Why Assam Faces Floods Every Year | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

Assam on stilts: The recurring story of damage and death

      WHY IN NEWS:

10 Reasons Why Assam Faces Floods Every Year

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : 3 : Floods : Disaster Management

      LEARNING: 

This is a comprehensive article on :

  • Damage and losses
  • Relevant Acts
  • And of course the 10 Reasons ! Let us dive in . Take a pen and paper and note down the points you find important .

      ISSUE: 

No major changes in policies to deal with floods in state since independence

10 REASONS WHY ASSAM FACES FLOODS EVERY YEAR

10 Reasons Why Assam Faces Floods Every Year

RECURRING STORY OF DAMAGE AND LOSS

  • Assam, every year in the last decade, has experienced floods that have led to the loss of human and animal life, destruction of crops, hunger and despair.
  • The floods batter infrastructure, aggravating the already poor drainage system.

The poor are rehabilitated in relief camps with poor health and sanitation facilities.

  • The cycle of floods and skeletal rehabilitation continues, year after year.
  • The topography of Assam and the meteorological factors do not absolve the state from this tragedy.
  • There has been a long history of negligence and misplaced priorities of the authorities regarding the overflowing Brahamaputra.

HISTORY

The fear of damage by floods led to the idea of building embankments in Assam and Bihar for cash crops by the British.
 

  • More embankments sprung up to protect the crops in flood-prone areas.
  • The post-Independence era did not witness major changes in policies to deal with floods in the state.

ACTS PROTECTING RIVER

ASSAM EMBANKMENT & DRAINAGE ACT 1953

  • The Assam Embankment & Drainage Act, 1953, was enacted by the State Assembly to build and maintain embankments after the major earthquake of 1950.
  • The successive governments have spent nearly Rs 30,000 crore in building embankments over the last 60 years.

The increasing intensity of floods speaks volumes about the ineffectiveness of these embankments.

  • Embankment failures have been common due to the increase in hydraulic pressure during monsoons.
  • Yet, the policy seems to merely continue building embankments as the only solution to the recurring floods.
  • Indeed, one of the reason is lack of proper analysis.
  • Thus it is consequences is the absence of an integrated approach by the Centre and the state.

BRAHAMAPUTRA BOARD ACT 1980

  • The Brahamaputra Board formed under the Brahmaputra Board Act, 1980.
  • The board lacks coordination with the state government; New Delhi takes the decisions carrying on major operations.
  • Similar lack of coordination can be seen between the Assam Disaster Management Authority and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

10 Reasons Why Assam Faces Floods Every Year

NDMA was “ineffective in functioning in most of the core areas”.-Supreme Audit Institution of India in 2013

WHY ASSAM FACES FLOODS EVERY YEAR

TOPOGRAPHY

  • Brahmaputra is both a lifeline and a threat to Assam.

It is a massive river system, of multiple channels and water bodies, crisscrossing large parts of Assam. 

  • Assam receives both the monsoon rains and water from the rivers originating from the Himalayas.

EMBANKMENTS

  • Embankments confined rivers and cause them to rise higher and flow faster.
  • The existing embankments and accentuate the impact of floods.

The focus has to shift from mindless construction of embankments to flood mitigating policies.

ANTHROPOGENIC EFFECTS

  • The state loses around 8,000 square km of land to erosion due to flooding every year.

Rampant deforestation and cutting of hills have only worsened the situation.

CLIMATE CHANGE

  • The impact of climate change on Eastern Himalayas makes glaciers melt faster.
  • The Brahmaputra brings huge volume of water, which leads to flooding every year.

LAND EROSION

  • Bank erosion caused by the river Brahmaputra, Barak, and its tributaries in the state leads to serious consequences.
  • This causes water to overflow in the low-lying areas every time a flood occurs.

HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL REASON

Poor dam management and flood control systems have led to gush water more ferociously .   

  • Chinese control over the river upstream has also ignited the issue.
  • The dams in Assam mainly focus at the hydropower benefits and lack storage space for flood control.

MINING AND DREDGING

  • In certain instances, authorities used dredgers to deepen the Brahmaputra.
  • Many environmentalists say that these engineering processes are conducted with little or no environmental assessment.

NATURAL REASONS

  • In 2004, Assam experienced flash floods of high magnitude due to cloud burst in the catchment areas in Meghalaya.

Floods and landslides are usually caused when the average rainfall exceeds more than normal.

  • Thus , resulting in overflowing of rivers and water streams.

UNPLANNED URBANISATION

  • Reduced infiltration and increased runoff of rainwater due to unplanned urbanisation are said to be among the primary drivers of urban floods.
  • Mountainous areas undergoing defrosting can result in increased amounts of water reaching the rivers, often increases the water table rapidly.

MAPPING AND SURVEY

Incorporating storage space in the reservoirs could be considered as a preventive measure during the floods.

  • Hazard maps, which highlight areas that are vulnerable to floods or affected by floods, could help prevent serious damage and deaths.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • The spectacle of the blame game among the authorities has also become an annual feature .
  • The need of the hour is to have a holistic strategic plan to break this cycle of misery.

TO-DO LIST

  • BETTER FLOOD FORECASTING : Information about floods forecasts must reach the affected villages in time.
  • BANNING CONSTRUCTIONS : Ban all construction on low-lying floodplains.
  • STRENGTHEN EMBANKMENTS : Create more room for the river, not restrict it.

How can we stop Mega Constructions around rivers? It is not making room for a river . River has its own room !

     SOURCES:DownToEarth | 10 Reasons Why Assam Faces Floods Every Year

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