TODAY -

Factors for flash flood dissected
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 17 2018: Speaking to a group reporters today, Asnikumar Moirangthem, vice president of BJP Manipur Pradesh and Environmentalist spelt out his ideas on how to tackle flash floods, its causes and mitigation.

Asnikumar said that he is saddened by the repeated disaster the people of Manipur have been subjected to.

He asserted, "It pains me to see normal life thrown out of gear in our State due to continuous rain since the last few days.

Although receiving such an amount of rainfall is nothing new to us, problems have started arising during the monsoon in the last few years" .

On the causes of flash flood in the valley and landslides in the hills, Asnikumar said, "The knee deep water in the city and outskirts coupled with landslides on the Imphal - Jiribam highway is the consequence of our own doing.

Two decades ago the state never faced heavy floods or landslides of such scale during monsoon.

The rapid deforestation in the catchment areas coupled with destruction of innumerable natural wetlands to create more land for agricultural expansion and unplanned development have led to the decline of natural soaking pits and retaining systems as well natural water holding capacity of the soil.

Moreover, the simultaneous rainfall in the catchment areas of the four major rivers of the State is also one of the main causes of this year's flash flood" .

The environmentalist added, "Due to excessive deforestation, there is not enough vegetation to slow the speed of water that hits the ground.

As a result, massive amount of erosion takes place, especially during rainy season.

Thus, the rain water carries huge siltation with it adding excessive load to the volume of water that are being washed down.

At the same time, several natural wetlands that acted as the reservoir of natural soaking pits have been gradually destroyed either by converting them into agriculture land or for developmental projects.

Rapid urbanisation has added to the destruction of the traditional drainage system.

And the consequence is that during continuous rain for even a few hours, the soil being deprived of its natural water holding capacity, the whole amount of rain is being washed out without substantial percolation and hence, the flash floods" .

He lamented why there is water shortage for human consumption at the same time inspite of such abundance, "Deforestation creates massive water shortages in the dry seasons as the soil has lost its ability to hold water.

Without trees, the soil does not hold water.

The irony is that the State faces shortage of proper drinking water despite receiving more than adequate amount of annual rainfall" .

Speaking on the plight of farmers in correlation to water issue, he said, "Moreover the irrigation system of the State has failed to adequately support the farmers.

This is becoming an alarming trend in the State which last year too faced similar floods four to five times during monsoon.

"The quarrying of pebbles and sand from the river beds of major rivers for commercial purposes is ecologically unviable.

This should be minimised as much as possible" .

On the role of Loktak, Asnikumar admitted, "Reducing the depth of Loktak lake due to the massive siltation and pollutants like plastic that are being dumped in it coupled with the constant need for maintaining minimum water level for operating turbines of Loktak Hydro Electric Project constantly raise the water level of the lake through the infamous Ithai Dam built on Manipur River and clog the natural drainage system of Manipur! "Without a comprehensive scientific policy to mitigate the problems and a lack of political will, the future seems bleak," he said.

Asnikumar added that as a result of "failed policy, every year the State Government has to spend crores on disaster management.

This creates huge financial burden on a State like Manipur which has few financial resources of its own.

The magnitude of the problem will only increase every year if we do not respond to this problem promptly" .

Asnikumar asserted that looking at things historically, the State has always been run on ad-hoc basis since Statehood.

This may bring quick solutions but in the long run creates more problems for the Government and the people.

"Planned development based on strong political will is the solution," he added.

He suggested that the first step in this regard could be the formulation of a comprehensive and long term water management policy with a long vision in consultation with renowned international experts in the field with due emphasis on pre disaster management and afforestation in the hills and a solution to the Loktak problem so that the incidence of flash floods is reduced.

The role and duty of all the departments concerned like Forest and Environment, Horticulture and Soil Conservation, Water Resources Department, Department of Rural Development, Revenue and Settlement Department, PHED, Wetlands Management Authority, State Disaster Management Department, environmentalists, activists and public need to be taken into account in the course of formulating and implementing such a policy.

"I am certain that there will be progressive steps taken in this regard by the current regime under the leadership of Chief Minister N Biren Singh as this Government in the past year has taken progressive steps in matters concerning the well being of the State", he said and appealed to all the political parties not to politicise the issue and blame each other during natural calamities.

Rather man blaming each other it would be in the best interest of the people of the State to work for the welfare of those affected by the floods, he added.


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