India Inundated:India's Massive Flood Problem

Published: September 18, 2017 - 15:07 Updated: September 18, 2017 - 15:27

Of India’s total geographical area of 329 milion hectares, about 45.64 million hectares are stated to be flood-prone, according to estimates in 1980. The Working Group for the Flood Management Programme for the 11th Five Year Plan (December 2006) estimated that, on average, 7.55 million hectares get affected, 1,560 lives are lost and damage worth Rs 1805 crore caused due to floods every year. Yet, if we look at the latest performance audit of flood control schemes and flood forecasting by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, it seems precious little is done about managing flood-induced disasters. The report was tabled in parliament on July 22, even as some states started to report devastating floods. 

In this issue, the Hardnews team brings to its readers a 360-degree view of what ails our warning systems related to floods.

Scholar Dinesh Mishra, who is known for his work on the rivers of north Bihar, tells us the story of what floods meant for peasants in earlier times, and how embankment-centred flood control efforts have only made matters worse.

Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (New Delhi), points out how the Central Water Commission failed to provide timely flood forecasts and prior warning this year.

Martin Macwan and Sataskhi Gawade write on the deluge in north Gujarat and south Rajasthan, respectively.

Monday morning in the last week of August brought back for Mumbaikars fears of 2005-like urban floods and the morning of Independence Day brought yet another urban flood in Bengaluru. We have S. Viswanath telling us the story of what has gone wrong in urban planning and what lessons can be learnt to tackle erratic rainfall-induced urban floods.

Ranjan Panda from Odisha writes on how the Hirakud dam has failed to perform flood control and shows how incorrect operations of the dam have actually been responsible for flash floods downstream.

India’s massive Flood problem

The CAG’s latest performance audit of flood control schemes and flood forecasting shows how little is done to manage flood-induced disasters


What drowned Mumbai?

Floods cause devastation because we have destroyed nature’s system for absorbing excess rainfall. So, is nature disrupting our lives or are we disrupting the natural order? 

Futility of warning systems

India’s current flood warning systems do not provide adequate data, while mitigation advocacy relies on unproven methods 

Disaster in the making

The Hirakud dam, Asia’s longest earthen dam, has been causing man-made floods in Odisha 

What floods exposed in Gujarat

In Gujarat, floods have uncovered the inefficacy of the government 

Bengaluru: Pointers in plenty

Excessive rain can be a water asset, stored for later use. For that, here’s what government, community and individual must do

Flood in the desert

How did Rajasthan, India’s driest state, end up being inundated? 

Learning from the locals

Residents in flood-prone areas, such as Mithila, have a long history of living with floods. It’s time to listen to them