No lessons learnt from 2018 Karnataka floods: IISc report

According to the report, the government's focus is on economic aspects while ignoring eco-sensitivity angles.

Published: 21st August 2019 05:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st August 2019 05:50 AM   |  A+A-

A visual from flood-hit Kodagu district in Karnataka

A visual from flood-hit Kodagu district in Karnataka. | Express Photo Services

Express News Service

BENGALURU: A recently released report by researchers of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has revealed that the situation in Kodagu has not improved ever since last year’s floods, and that the government and district administration has not learnt any lessons from its previous mistakes.

The report — Progress in disaster science — prepared by researchers from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, shows the impact due to the proposed developmental project in the ecologically fragile Kodagu region.

Prof TV Ramachandra, co-author of the report, said nothing has changed since last August (when the first floods happened).“In fact, the same places are flooded again. This clearly means that the government ignored the ecological sensitivity of the region and concentrated only on the economic aspects. The government has not implemented the Madhav Gadgil report,” he said.

Ramachandra said the places which were flooded last August were inundated this year too. “For example, the Madikeri-Suliya Road, Virajpet, Siddapura and Somwarpet Road. With this being the case, some politicians are now proposing to lay a railway line from Kodagu to Mysuru and widen the existing roads passing through Bandipur Tiger Reserve,” he pointed out.

The report also shows the change in landscape from 1973 to 2018 and now. The land under evergreen forest cover has shrunk from 40.47 per cent to 24.37 per cent, and the built-up area has increased from 0.42 per cent to 2.34 per cent.

The scenario-based analyses highlight the likely loss of forest cover from 53 to 42 per cent (2010-2026) with the implementation of proposed linear projects, whereas business-as-usual scenario shows forest cover of 45 per cent (2026). Mushrooming of built-up areas will be intense in towns (Madikeri, Virajpet, Gonikoppa, Ponnampet, Somwarpet, Kushlnagar, Shanivarasante). 

Urban sprawl in peri-urban regions (of the current towns) will be devoid of proper infrastructure and basic amenities. Further intervention will worsen the ecology and hydrology as well as livelihood of people with the increase in instances of human-induced calamities — landslides, mudslides, floods and drought.

The study recommends engaging local stakeholders, village-level forest committees and women self-help groups in forest protection activities.

The creation of water bodies, growing fodder crops, restrictions on inappropriate crops and eviction of unauthorized occupation of forest lands are the initiatives recommended for the conservation of the region and improvement in the ecology.

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