NEW DELHI: Floods are an annual event in the country. Hundreds die every year, and crores are spent. Despite this, the Central government does not have day-to-day inundation data of overflowing rivers.
Repeated requests by Union water ministry to the Department of Space for one of its laboratories to provide proper data on floods for better flood management have failed.The ministry believes that the exact GIS coordinates of inundated area can help in better and focused flood management and can help in saving lives. India has 329 million hectare land area and of this, 49 million hectare, which is about 14 per cent, is flood-prone. The flood area needs to be marked for effective flood management, but the ministry of water resources doesn’t have exact mapping of flood-affected areas.
Cracking down on this, Union minister Nitin Gadkari has asked the water resources ministry to pursue the demand again and get it done as soon as possible. Gadkari has been recently appointed the Union water resources, river development, and Ganga rejuvenation minister.The move also comes at a time when India is witnessing massive floods across the country that has damaged property worth billions. Floods have been reported in Assam, other parts of Northeast, and Bihar. Over three crore people across country have been affected.
“The ministry has earlier written to the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) to provide them geographic information system (GIS) map of inundation to know the exact flood-affected area, but in vain,” said a senior water ministry official. The NRSC is under the Indian Space Research Organisation.
Gadkari has now asked the water ministry officials to write to the NRSC and sort out the issues. The matter was raised during a review meeting by the newly appointed minister.
“The demand for data-sharing by government agencies with ministries has been raised from time to time. In 2015, a meeting was chaired by Prime Minister on use of space technology by Central ministries, in which the issue of data-sharing by NRSC for flood management also figured, but nothing happened,” said another top level officer of the water resources ministry.
In India, floods are a recurrent phenomenon, which causes huge loss of lives and damage to livelihood, property, infrastructure, and public utilities. As per a government report, every year, on an average, 7.55 million hectares of land is affected; 1,560 lives are lost and the damage caused to
crops, houses and public utilities due to floods is estimated at `1,805 crore.