Kochi: The amicus curiae appointed by the High Court has upheld the contention that the flood disaster that hit Kerala in August last was man-made and blamed the government agencies and the dam management authorities for worsening the situation caused by the unprecedented rains.
The failure of government agencies in handling the situation needed to be examined, said Jacob Alex, the amicus curie appointed to help the court in deciding the merits of 15 petitions that came up before it. The 45-page ‘Report on Kerala floods 2018 and management of dams’ stated that the impact of the floods was aggravated by various factors. “None of the 79 dams in Kerala were operated or used for the purpose of flood control/moderation despite the obligation to utilise the dams for the purpose of flood control/moderation also as per the national water policy and NDMA guidelines on floods,” it said.
“The dams in Kerala did not maintain effective flood control zone, and the flood cushion said to have been maintained was not as mandated by BIS report, RTIOR and O&M manuals,” it said.
High reservoir storage even in the first week of August, sudden release of water from all dams, reduced storage due to siltation, no integrated operation of dams based on scientifically identified rule curves and the abse-nce of proper flood warning are some of the other points listed in the report.
It also stated that the dam managers ought not to have relied ‘solely’ on IMD predictions for dam management and that the variation in IMD forecast or prediction cannot be counted as justification for delayed release of water from dams.
In the section on key suggestions for better flood management in futu-re, it suggested that there should be proper flood plain zoning, preparation of inundation maps, finalisation of emergency act-ion plans, updating rules of curves, evolving dam specific operation and maintenance manual and proper flood forecasting system.
The report also suggested that to “identify various causes of floods and factors that had resulted in worsening of the same, it is recommended to have a more detailed enquiry by appointing an independent expert enquiry committee headed by a former judge of superior court and preferably consisting of reputed hydrologist, expert in dam management, engineers and other experts.”
The floods and landslides resulted in the death of 433 people, affected over 5.4 million people and displaced 1.4 million others. The Post-Disaster Need Assessment Report of the United Nations, World Bank, ADB and government of Kerala estimated economic loss to the tune of Rs 26,720 crore and cost of reconstruction at Rs 31,000 crore....