Kerala pays price for rejecting Center’s proposal

Kochi: Water is slowly receding, but the paranoia — which steeply rose during and after the latest devastating flood — refuses to die down among the public. Blame games apart, there may not be two opinions that the state’s approach to tackling the ensuing flood was not exactly foolproof, particularly in sending out ‘alerts’.
Looking back, experts believe the impact of devastation could have been much less had not Kerala outright rejected a proposal by the Union Ministry of Water Resources a decade ago to start flood forecast sites at crucial points.
Most states set them up — Karnataka and Tamil Nadu together opened 70 (15 flood forecast and 55 base stations), mainly related to the Cauvery basin and other east-flowing rivers south of Pennar. They have become fully functional.
Though 175 flood forecast sites were in place in 2007-08, the Union ministry decided to add another 100 and entrusted the task of identifying the spots with the Delhi office of the Central Water Commission (CWC). Idukki and Mullaperiyar dams were among the five identified locations, but following Kerala’s cold response, the slots were distributed among other states.
‘NE monsoon could be tricky’
“I don’t know why Kerala rejected the proposal. The reason could be political, financial or simply a knee-jerk ‘no’ to yet another Central interference. We make forecasts (at dams and rivers) after it rains. Naturally, the margin for error has been set very narrowly. Warning, general advisory, regular forecast and inflow forecast are being issued,” a highly-placed CWC officer told ‘Express’.
The officer said it is important to issue flood alerts far more efficiently during the coming northeast monsoon.“For decades, the northeast monsoon is the one that has been making our dams and their catchment areas really rich. Since the dams are already filled, the northeast monsoon could put them under real pressure,” he said.
“Hourly data of water level in a dam and discharges as well as short-duration rainfall should be made known to the public. It’s also important to increase a person’s awareness about the water level of a nearby river and correlating the flood of the area. It’s also a good idea to have water-level gauge on all important bridges. Gradually, that will help the public. It has happened with people from villages, including in Assam,” he added.
While the flood forecast may not be able to prevent inundation as such, it scientifically guides one in his/her decision-making, particularly during micro management, thereby saving lives of thousands and their valuables.

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