Flood-prone Himachal lacks safety plans: CAG

Shimla, April 6 (IANS) The authorities in Himachal Pradesh which is prone to natural disasters, have neither made a scientific assessment of flood-prone areas nor prepared any action plan for execution of flood protection works.

This came to light in a performance audit on implementation of flood protection projects in the state by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to ascertain the state’s preparedness.
Out of 2.31 lakh hectares estimated to be flood-prone area, only 25,116.21 hectares or 11 per cent could be covered as of March 2017.
The auditor says against seven flood management projects approved during 2008-13 and stipulated to be completed from March 2012 to 2017, only four were completed.
Embankments of 275 km, or 50 per cent, against the target of 548 km was constructed till March 2017, said the CAG report, which was tabled in the assembly on its last day on Thursday.
The CAG noted that there was short release of Rs 657.36 crore by the Centre and Rs 21.25 crore by the state under Flood Management Programme projects from 2008-17, resulting in delay of more than 12 to 60 months in execution and completion of the projects.
The hills of Himachal Pradesh, especially in Chamba, Kinnaur, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Sirmaur and Una districts, are prone to natural disaster like flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides.
According to official data, a total of 309 people lost their lives and 1,905 livestock perished, besides causing an estimated loss of properties more than Rs 2,385.45 crore in the past five decades.
To increase preparedness for sudden and unexpected flood-related disasters, the National Water Policy 2012 provides for glacial lake outburst flood and landslide dam break flood studies with periodic monitoring.
The auditor noticed that these specific studies were not carried out by the state from 2012 to 2017.
This is a wake-up call for authorities as the robust flood forecasting system is a miss in the state.
In order to modernise snow-melt runoff forecasting system, a snow hydrology centre was set up in Shimla in 1984.
The Centre did not conduct flood forecasting till March 2017.
The hill state’s economy is also highly dependent on hydropower generation.
The CAG report said emergency action plan (EAP) for all 18 commissioned dams had been prepared.
However, the inundation maps indicating the low-lying area and nearby high-level areas where the affected people could be shifted in case of dam break in respect of two selected Bhakra and Chamera-I dams have been prepared, while the maps of the third selected Largi dam has not been prepared.
Likewise, the glacial lake outburst flood and landslide dam break floods studies were not undertaken by any of these dams.
The CAG recommends formulation of a basin-wise comprehensive long-term master plan for flood protection works based on scientific assessment and morphological studies of flood prone areas.

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