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CAG report blames institutional failure for poor flood management

LiveMint logoLiveMint 21-07-2017 Mayank Aggarwal

New Delhi: At a time when Assam is reeling under severe flooding, a report by the government auditor has held that “there were huge delays in completion of river management activities and works related to border areas projects which were long-term solutions for the flood problems of Assam, north Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh”.

The comptroller and auditor general of India (CAG) report on “schemes for flood control and flood forecasting”, which was presented in Parliament on Friday, also said “there were discrepancies in execution of works like regular award of work, splitting of tenders, payment at higher rates, etc.”

At present, Assam, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur are experiencing floods.

For the report, CAG sampled 206 flood management projects, 38 flood forecasting stations, 49 river management activities and works related to border area projects and 68 large dams in 17 selected states and union territories (UTs) during 2007-08 to 2015-16.

The report noted that there were delays in completion of projects under the flood management programmes and flood management works were not taken up in an integrated manner.

It also stressed official apathy towards flood control measures. Recommendations of the Rashtriya Barh Ayog (National Flood Commission) regarding “identification of area affected by flood in country remain unfulfilled”, it noted.

“Scientific assessment of flood-prone areas had not been completed in any of the 17 States/UTs. Morphological studies, with a view to achieve better results in building, renovating and maintaining revetments, spurs and embankments to control and mitigate disasters caused by floods, were not completed by any of the 17 States/UTs,” the report said.

The report also revealed that out of 4,862 large dams, emergency action plans/disaster management plans for only 349 (7%) had been prepared by March 2016. It stressed that “programmes for maintenance of dams were not prepared and adequate funds were not provided to carry out structural/repair work”.

“Only 231 (5%) large dams evolved operating procedure/manuals. Out of 17 States/UTs, only two states had fully carried out the pre-monsoon and post monsoon inspection of the dams, three states had carried out the inspections partially and remaining 12 states had not carried out these inspections,” it said.

The report observed that the dam safety legislation initiated in 2010 has not been enacted till August 2016.

The report further notes that during the site visits in 17 States/UTs, “various deficiencies were noticed in the structures created under 14 projects under the flood management programme in 11 states”.

India is highly vulnerable to floods. Out of the total geographical areas of 329 million hectares, about 45.64 million hectares is flood-prone. As per the report on flood management for 2007-12, on an average every year, 7.55 million hectares of land is affected and 1,560 lives are lost and the damage caused to crops, houses and utilities due to floods is estimated at Rs1,805 crore.

The report recommended that the union water resources ministry keep strict vigilance on utilization of funds by state governments and executing agencies to avoid “parking and diversion” of funds meant for flood management.

It asked the central water commission to devise a time bound action plan to speed up the formulation of flood forecast.

It also asked the union water resources ministry to prepare a time-bound action plan to accelerate the completion of all the long term river management activates and works related to border areas projects to facilitate the long term solution to the flood problem of Assam, north Bihar and western Uttar Pradesh from annual flooding.

On dams, the report recommended that the union water resources ministry may advise state governments to prepare standard operating procedures for dams and carry out the prescribed pre- and post-monsoon inspection of dams.

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