KOCHI: After the devastating floods that took place two years in a row, one expects the Kerala government to be more vigilant and have acted on experts' advice.
Far from it, the state is sitting on two a crucial set of proposals -- one submitted to the World Bank by Japan Water Agency (JWA) suggesting short and long term measures including study on flood control measures for Kerala river basins; and another by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to train around 20 engineers from the state in Japan for dam operations to mitigate the floods.
There is also a suggestion for the setting up of a 'Dam Management Authority' or 'Reservoir Management Authority' to bring all the reservoirs under one entity to control the operations in a coordinated way considering other dams in the same river basin. This authority should be comprised of engineers, Researchers, Policy experts, Economists and environmentalists, NGOs, LSG representatives in different Tiers. This will help to focus on the efficient and effective utilization of water resources.
While the JWA proposal was submitted around August last year, the JICA recommendation for training Kerala engineers at various dams and institutions in Japan was made around October-November last year.
The JWA recommendation followed the visit of Prof Toshio Koike, director of International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) under UNESCO, early last year.
Some of the other recommendations by JWA included ensuring flood control capacity that should be used only for the purpose of flood mitigation and study on the necessity for function enhancement of existing dams, in addition to the study on flood control measures for Kerala river basins.
JWA also proposed identifying challenges in realizing integrated reservoir operation of several dams and consideration of measures to solve challenges and installation of new rainfall and water level/discharge observation stations; and installation of flood forecasting, monitoring and evacuation system for Kerala rivers.
Abdulla Bava, senior research scientist, Advanced Technology Institute, Japan, talking to The New Indian Express over the phone from Japan, said Kerala has lot similarities with Japan in terms of climatic and topographic conditions, and the floods in both countries are caused by riverine floods.
“Geography of Japan river basins, precipitation characteristics, flow and nature of the rivers and flood characteristics are very similar to Kerala and, therefore, the flood mitigation strategy and technology developed and deployed in Japan are the most suitable for Kerala. Considering the riverine origin of floods, Japan flood mitigation technology is not only suitable for Kerala and many other parts of India but many countries in South, South East Asia, South America and Africa because of similarity in mountainous terrains, cascading rivers with steep profile and torrential summer monsoon rains,” Bava, who was instrumental in bringing Prof Koike to Kerala last year, said.
Therefore, it is quite natural that the World Bank is promoting the Japan flood mitigation technology in most of the countries in these regions. The Japanese agencies such as Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Tourism, National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management, Public Works Research Institute, ICHARM, JWA and JICA are actively involved in setting up flood early warning, monitoring and evacuation systems in Sri Lanka, Philippines, Myanmar, Iran Brazil and African countries with the help of World Bank and Asian Development Bank. “The same can be adopted successfully in Kerala,” said Bava.
* Dam or Reservoir Management Authority to bring all reservoirs under one authority
* Study on flood control steps
* Ensure flood control capacity to be used only for the purpose of flood mitigation
* Study on function enhancement of existing dams