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(Aditya Waikul/ TOI, BCCL, Pune)

Coming down heavily on the Centre in view of the “loss of life and property caused throughout the year in almost every part of the country” due to floods, a Parliamentary Committee has called for setting up a permanent institutional structure in the form of ‘National Integrated Flood Management Group (NIFMG)’ under the chairmanship of the Jal Shakti Minister.

Formation of the NIFMG was the main recommendation of the 12th report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources, headed by MP Dr Sanjay Jaiswal, tabled on Thursday.

The report gave a detailed year-wise, category-wise table that showed India suffered Rs 4,00,097.091 crore worth of total damages to crops, houses and public utilities from 1953 to 2018 due to floods.

The report ‘Flood Management in the country including international water treaties in the field of Water Resources Management with particular reference to treaty/agreement entered into with China, Pakistan and Bhutan’ dwelt in detail about structural, non-structural measures taken in the country, constitutional provisions on flood management, flood-plain zoning and scientific assessment of flood-prone areas, as it touched upon a variety of subjects, including floods in Assam and Kerala, integrated reservoir operations and flash floods, cloudbursts etc. among other things.

It sought that the Central government “must take up responsibility for coordinating the national efforts for flood control and mitigation with all stakeholders”.

Each wing of the government at national, state, and sub-state level “view floods as a situation to be dealt with as and when it happens,” the Committee observed, and in a scathing comment, noted: “Under the existing scheme of things, given the constitutional and administrative compartmentalisation, flood management appears to be everyone’s business and therefore it reduces to nobody’s business.”

The Committee “strongly desires to break this thinking pattern in the administrative structures”, the report said, recommending that the Jal Shakti Ministry take up the onus of flood management in the country as an overarching responsibility.

It said that it recommends that in view of the loss of life and property caused throughout the year in almost every part of the country, the Union government must take up responsibility for coordinating the national efforts for flood control and mitigation with all stakeholders, and pitched for the formation of NIFMG with the Minister of Jal Shakti heading it.

Ministers concerned of the state governments should be the members of this group and the group should meet at least once a year, as it should take up the overall responsibility of coordination as well as building synergies between all agencies responsible for the management of floods and their consequences on life and property, the committee said. It also recommends that the first meeting of this group “should be held within three months of the presentation of this report to the Parliament”.

While taking an overarching responsibility in flood management, the NIFMG should also take up prevention and mitigation strategies of localised flooding events including the issues of hyper construction and waterlogging in urban areas as well as issues like localised landslides leading to flooding etc.

“NIFMG should also get a strategy prepared for identification of localised areas that are prone to localised flooding which leads to loss of life and property, especially in urban areas,” the report said.

NIFMG should exercise supervision over all aspects of flood management in the country including those issues, which fall in the domain of state/local governments as well as which are of international linkages. Given the scale of loss of life and property caused by the floods, which show an increasing trend, NIFMG should present an annual report on this issue to Parliament, the Committee directed.

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The above article has been published from a wire agency with minimal modifications to the headline and text.

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