KOCHI: Ecologist Madhav Gadgil said the opinion of the people should be considered while implementing projects and the bureaucracy should not be allowed to dictate terms. “We should have a database of the natural resources available at a place and the local people should have a say on extracting and rationing out the resources,” he told Express. “We should ensure the resources are not over-exploited. Some people own multiple assets like flats as speculative investment. The Geological Survey of India has a landslide division which will be able to share their database. This should be used to identify the safe locality for rehabilitation of the displaced people,” he said.
Refuting the claims no dam in Kerala was constructed to control floods, Gadgil said flood mitigation was also part of dam management. The authorities in control of the dam should be aware of the implications of water release.“We should also examine the rainfall records. The release of water from the dam should not be based on annual rainfall forecast, but based on the actual rainfall received in the area. The IMD had predicted heavy rainfall on August 15, 16 and 17, which was ignored. The records had conveyed in clear and unequivocal terms what proportion of rainfall was expected on these days. The officers controlling the dams should have remembered that rainfall will continue for the next four months,” he said.
“Some students of Indian Institute of Science, whose houses were located on the banks of River Pampa, had conveyed the horrific experience of the flood. Their parents were trapped in the houses and the first floor of the houses had submerged. If the authorities had started releasing water early, the intensity of the flood could have been reduced,” he said.
Gadgil said rehabilitating the displaced people in Idukki, in the same place where multiple incidents of landslide and debris flow were reported, would be dangerous. Rehabilitation should be done in lines with the panchayat development reports prepared as part of the people’s planning campaign.
“I have seen how they prepared watershed management programme at Kalliassery in Kannur district. The public should have information of the scientific predictions on the impact of climate change and how it is going to impact their lives. We should be prepared for extreme weather events,” he said.
Gadgil said there are serious deficiencies in the flood forecasting system in India, which needs to be addressed. It is said Kerala had no idea of whichever places will be inundated while releasing water from the dam. These deficiencies should have been addressed earlier. There should be an open discussion to devise a plan. There should be a movement like the people’s planning campaign to develop watershed programmes using IT tolls and topography mapping, he said.