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What, when, who and how of. Experiencing Floods as a Disaster. Flood Management History in India. Before independence: Damodar experience 1948: The DVC Act 1954: National Flood Policy 1963: Farakka construction starts 1980: Report of National Floods Commission

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What when who and how of

What, when, who and how of

Experiencing Floods as a Disaster

Flood management history in india

Flood Management History in India

  • Before independence: Damodar experience

  • 1948: The DVC Act

  • 1954: National Flood Policy

  • 1963: Farakka construction starts

  • 1980: Report of National Floods Commission

  • 1979-80: Flood forecasting starts

  • 1999: Report of the National Commission on Integrated Water Resources Development

  • 2002: ILR proposals to solve flood problem

  • 2004: PM’s Task Force on Floods

  • 2004: Proposal for NE River Valley Authority

The govt responses

The Govt responses

  • Embankments

  • Dams

  • Dredging

  • Spurs, revetments

  • (Flood forecasts, warning)

  • ILR

  • Disaster Management

  • Relief, (insurance)

  • Committees

How flood affected area has been going up

How flood affected area has been going up

Average annual damage due to floods in bihar source ncf 1980

Average annual damage due to floods in Bihar(Source: NCF, 1980)

Average annual damage due to floods in uttar pradesh source ncf 1980

Average annual damage due to Floods in Uttar Pradesh(Source: NCF, 1980)

Brahmaputra floods in india

Brahmaputra floods in India

Embankments experience so far

Embankments: Experience so far

  • Change the character of floods

  • Silted rivers: Raised riverbeds

  • People trapped within the embankments vs those outside

  • Sand casting

  • Water logging

  • Prolonged flooding

  • False Sense of security: Breakdown of coping mechanisms

  • Inadequate maintenance

  • No role for the people

  • Govt response: Bigger, stronger embankments

  • No Independent assessment of performance of embankments

Some official views on embankments

Some official views on Embankments

  • NCF: “The annual benefits from embankments were, therefore, by and large, a matter of overall opinion of some individual, with no supporting data. We were, therefore, reluctant to draw any conclusion from the trend of such opinions.”

  • W Bengal Govt to NCF about Embankments: “It is at best a temporary measure, where river water carries a heavy silt charge, the embankment by shutting off the spill areas on either side hastens raising of river bed with consequent rise in flood levels. This phenomenon creates potential danger of breach of embankments. A vicious race starts at that stage between the rise of the river bed and raising of the embankments in which the latter has not even a remote chance to win.”

Experience with large dams

Experience with Large Dams

  • Farakka: Impact in Malda, Murshidabad, upstream in India, downstream in Bangladesh

  • Damodar Valley

  • Kangsabati

  • Mayurakshi

  • 2006 experience elsewhere in India

The proposed dams in gbm

The Proposed dams in GBM

  • Under Construction: Pagladiya, Subansiri Lower, Kameng, Teesta (at least 3)

  • Under Approval process: Tipaimukh, Teesta (at least 4)

  • In the pipeline: Pancheshwar, Saptakoshi-Sunkoshi, Karnali, Dibang, Siang, Subansiri Middle, Subansiri Upper, 50 others

Can ilr solve flood problem

Can ILR solve flood “problem”?

  • According to President (speech on 110505) flood affects 8 major basins, 40 m ha and 260 m people

  • ILR is to have Lined Canals with 1:3,000 to 1:5,000 slope or 0.33 to 0.20 m per km. Maximum flow velocity 2 m/s. A 100 m wide & 10 m deep lined canal can carry about 1,000 cumecs.

  • (Figures thanks to SG Vombatkere, ILR figures from official website: www.riverlinks.nic.in)

  • ILR can clearly not help solve flood problem

What do experts say about ilr and floods

What do experts say about ILR and Floods?

  • Dr. Bharat Singh, Professor Emeritus at the Water Resources Development Training Centre at the IIT, Rourkee, and Member of the National Commission for Integrated Water Resources Development Plan (1996-99), has said, “any water resources engineer will immediately discard the idea of the inter-linking of rivers as a flood control measure” (A big dream of little logic, The Hindustan Times, 9 March 2003).

  • John Bricoe, Senior Water Resources Expert of the World Bank has said, "River linking per se will do little to reduce flood damage since the size of the link canals would usually be miniscule compared to flood flows." Junaid Ahmad, Senior Manager, Social Development, World Bank was also said ILR won’t help flood problems.

Responses to ilr

Responses to ILR

  • Bihar

  • W Bengal

  • Assam

  • Bangladesh

  • Nepal

  • Civil Society

  • Experts

North east valley proposal

North East Valley Proposal

  • What is the proposal: Development of NE as a River Valley on the lines of TVA

  • What it means: Large dams, big hydropower projects, treating water, rivers and forests as a resource

  • Who are behind it: the PM, the World Bank

  • What has been the response so far: Arunachal Pradesh, Civil Society

Nepal some recent developments

Nepal: Some recent Developments

  • 2002: Water Resources Strategy finalised by WECS, Govt of Nepal

  • Tenth Plan (2003-8) has major focus on Disasters: Natural and Human induced, including a policy on disaster risk reduction

  • 2005: National Water Plan with specific focus on water induced disasters

  • 2006: Water Induced Disaster Management Policy includes strategy of preservation of rivers, river-basins and environment for sustainable use

Indo nepal issues

Indo Nepal Issues

  • Sarada, Koshi, Gandak, Mahakali agreements & implementation

  • Big dams: Pancheshwar, Koshi, Karnali, Bagmati, Kamala, West Seti

  • Embankments: Laxmanpur, others

  • 16 committee when last counted

  • Perceptions

  • Floodforecasting

Bangladesh some recent developments

Bangladesh: Some Recent Developments

  • 1993-4: Agitation on FAP

  • 1995: Flood and Water Management Strategy Report

  • 1998: National Water Policy

  • 2000: National Water Resources Database created at WARPO- Water Resources Planning Organisation

  • 2004: National Water Management Plan final by WARPO, Ministry of Water Resources (Netherlands involvement)

  • 2003-2008: Integrated Planning for Sustainable Water Management, implemented by Bangladesh Water Development Board

Indo bangladesh issues

Indo Bangladesh issues

  • Farakka

  • 1977-1996 treaty and thereafter

  • ILR

  • Tipaimukh

  • Tessta, 52 other rivers

  • Joint River Commission: functioning and non functioning

  • Push for mutilateralism on Nepal Dams

  • Perceptions

The world bank role in the region

The World Bank Role in the Region

  • Early 1990s:

  • SSP in India

  • Arun 3 in Nepal

  • FAP in BD

  • History: Funding DVC

  • Now pushing the NE Valley Authority on the lines of TVA

  • Pushing large dams under the 2002 WRSS, calling them high risk, high reward projects

Some other players

Some Other Players

  • ADB

  • Bilaterals like DFID, JBIC, USAID, SIDA, Netherlands, DANIDA

  • China, Bhutan, Myanmar


  • Attempts at multilateralism

  • Corporate bodies

  • Experts, Academics

  • NGOs

  • Climate Change

Flood forecasting

Flood Forecasting

  • Started in 1980

  • Info not in public domain

  • CWC the main agency

  • Performance in 2006 shows the problems

  • No independent performance appraisal

  • Climate Change makes flood forecasting even more relevant

The factors that help convert floods into disaster

The factors that help convert floods into disaster

  • Destruction of forests

  • Destruction of water retention, percolation systems in the catchment

  • Construction (roads, railways, canals, embankments, urban & industrial estates) without necessary drainage in the catchment

  • Inadequate maintenance of embankments (once they have been constructed, that is)

  • Improper operation of dams (once they have been constructed, that is)

Some advocacy issues

Some Advocacy Issues

  • Advocacy for National Drainage Policy, National Drainage Commission

  • National & Regional Watchdog Network on flood management in particular and WRD in general

  • The Network can take up monitoring role to begin with

  • Advocacy for transparency and accountability in Flood Management

Some functions of the proposed watchdog

Some Functions of the proposed watchdog

  • Critical monitoring of CWC performance on flood forecasting

  • All flood forecasting data (including those shared between nations) should be in public domain

  • Take up some flood forecasting in selected areas

  • Advocacy for norms on drainage provision while taking up roads, railways, canals, urban and other developments that can congest drainage

  • Use RTI (this even those involved in Flood relief can take up) to make govt transparent, accountable on flood management issues

  • Demand transparency in functioning of international committees, commissions

  • Advocacy on National Plans (e.g. 11th Plan AP)

Watchdog functions 2

Watchdog functions - 2


  • Review performance of selected embankments as case studies

  • Demand transparency in planning, decision making, construction and maintenance of embankments, use RTE

  • Advocacy for community role in embankment maintenance, take up some specific embankment to focus

  • Advocacy for decommissioning of select embankments after proper studies

  • Use Public Hearings to highlight problems with embankments

Watchdog functions 3

Watchdog functions - 3

  • DAMS

  • Critical examination of dams proposed for flood control

  • Critical examination of performance w.r.t. flood control of dams already constructed

  • Demand implementation of WCD like guidelines in planning, decision making and implementation of Dams and other projects


  • Critical review and advocacy

  • Research and documentation of DVC experience

  • Critical review of existing projects in NE

Thank you

Thank you

  • South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People

  • [email protected]

  • www.sandrp.in

  • September 2006

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