[op-ed snap] Living With The Deluge

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Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster and disaster management.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

Flood governance: focus should shift from relief measures to building resilience in flood-prone areas” Discuss

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Floods: India’s vulnerability, solutions etc.



  1. Narendra Modi announced a Rs 2,000 crore package for relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation in the flood-affected states in the Northeast.
  2. Rs 100 crore will be used to set up a high-powered committee that will work on finding permanent solutions to the flood problem
  3. There is a need to shift the focus from flood protection to flood governance.

Reasons for flood


  1. Rivers in the Northeast, originating in the Eastern Himalayas, experience a sharp fall in gradient as they move from Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan to reach Assam’s floodplains.
  2. Rivers carry large amounts of sediments, which then get deposited on the floodplains, reducing the storage capacity of the river channels and resulting in inundation of the adjoining floodplains.


  • Sediment load carried by the rivers is accentuated through “developmental” interventions in the Eastern Himalayas that result in deforestation.

Flood protection methods

  1. Embankments
  2. Dredging rivers and bank strengthening
  3. Storage dams: Its scope is limited in Arunachal Pradesh, given the region’s geology and the ecology.

Flood affected people


  1. Building resilience for the flood affected communities
  2. Water and sanitation issues require attention during the flood months.
  3. Floods are accompanied by outbreaks of diseases such as diarrhea. Ensure access to veterinary services.
  4. People in the flood-prone areas in the Northeast, by and large, practice subsistence agriculture.
  5. While the land remains inundated for an extended period in the monsoons, proper irrigation facilities must be provided

Flood governance through resilience building 

  1. Reducing vulnerability
  2. Increasing access to services
  3. Maximising productivity through optimal use of available resource
  4. Community-based advance flood warning systems
  5. Elevated toilets, ecosanitation units — promoted in the flood-prone areas of North Bihar — and elevated dugwells or tubewells with iron filter need to be installed in the Northeast.

Way forward?

  1. Productivity can be maximised by giving people access to cheaper sources of irrigation, research on short duration boro paddy, and innovative agriculture techniques like floating vegetable gardens. 
  2. Scientific fish farming on the waterbodies and the inundated land can ensure that inundation, when it cannot be avoided, is put to optimal use.
  3. Strategic environment assessment of development activities
  4. Strengthening planning authorities like the Brahmaputra Board and flood control departments by staffing them with scientists from a wide range of disciplines is essential
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.
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