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Need for extreme caution to avoid any further or rapid aggravation of flood situation

By Bharat Dogra 

The situation in mid-July in India and more particularly in North India suggests need for extreme caution to avoid any further or rapid aggravation of the flood situation.
At rather an early stage of the monsoon season, excessive floods have taken place in Delhi and neighboring parts as well as in the upper Himalayan catchment areas of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. What is more, more heavy rain has been forecast for several Himalayan and other hilly parts of the country for the next week and this can mean an increase of flood and landslide problems for not just the hill areas but also for the plains below them which are more densely populated.
Already there has been heavy damage from rains in states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand which have become very vulnerable due to excessively high construction activities in fragile zones.
The situation in mid-July is that while some important parts of the country like many villages of the intensive foodgrain producing states and important cities like Delhi and NOIDA are already badly affected to an abnormal extent by floods and traffic by rail and road has also been badly affected over wide areas. At the same time, there is further forecast of heavy or moderately heavy rain for some of these hilly areas as well as plains below hills.
Such forecast has been made for many vast parts of the country, and not just North India. This includes parts where heavy floods have been a big problem in the past.
In some of these areas excessive floods have been caused in the past by heavy discharges from dams as well as breaches of embankments. Hence no time should be lost in giving very clear instructions that dam management should give the topmost priority to reducing the possibilities of heavy floods. Any weaknesses which can be identified in embankments should be attended to as soon as possible without waiting for a crisis situation to develop.
While the rain forecasts for internal hilly areas are carefully monitored, this should be done also for neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan and others. In cities like Delhi the preparations should include not just the proper management of the existing flood but also the real possibility of further local rains and the possibility of receiving further flows from the barrages above which direct the waters received from hills above.
Other cities which need very careful monitoring include those like Haridwar and Rishikesh which re located on river-banks.
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The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now

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