State has not identified and demarcated floodplains
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pulled up the State Government for lapses, and policy and infrastructure deficiencies that hamstrung disaster response during the 2018 floods.
The audit by the CAG noted that the Kerala State Water Policy was not updated in tune with the National Water Policy and lacked provisions for flood control and flood management.
The CAG report on ‘Preparedness and Response to Floods in Kerala,’ covering the 2014-19 period, was tabled in the Assembly on Thursday.
The State had not enacted a floodplain zoning legislation and the floodplains were not identified and demarcated. “Had the exercise of identification and demarcation of the floodplains been undertaken, the same could have been used by the Government of Kerala in their activities on flood control,” it said.
Flood-hazard maps, vital for pinpointing flood-prone regions, used by the State dated back to 2010 and did not conform to the criteria set by the Central Water Commission. At the time of audit, the State was yet to have a large-scale flood-hazard map satisfying the criteria.
The CAG has recommended that the Government take corrective measures in all the three issues.
Dearth of rain gauges
Only six rain gauges were in place in the Periyar basin instead of 32, the recommended minimum requirement. “Audit observes that the shortfall of 26 rain gauges in the basin resulted in lack of real-time data on spatially distributed rainfall which could have had an adverse impact on flood forecasting and alleviation measures.”
The audit also noted that communication infrastructure was non-functional in some areas, including dam sites and Government offices during and subsequent to the 2018 floods.
The report noted that the Edamalayar reservoir lacked a rule curve during the 2018 floods. In the case of Idukki, the rule curve was framed in 1983 and was not reviewed until after the 2018 floods.
450% hike in built-up area
The Land Use Land Cover analysis for the Periyar basin — in Idukki and Ernakulam districts — revealed an increase in built-up area by nearly 450% (from 60 sq km to 330 sq km) during 1985-2015. Waterbodies fell by 17%. The report notes that the encroachments on the Cheruthoni riverbed hindered the free flow of water, resulting in heavy damage.
“The Government needs to prioritise speedy resolution of the issues relating to unauthorised constructions from the construction-free zones of Cheruthoni as also to ensure no new construction is allowed to come up in future within the demarcated zone.”
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