New Delhi, June 25 : States should adopt and implement a model Flood Plain Zoning Bill that was first circulated to them 38 years ago as this will minimise losses like those caused in Uttarakhand, a senior official has said. Ironically, Uttarakhand is one of only three states to have acceded to the measure, having done so only last December.
"Mitigation of devastation caused by floods, as we have seen in Uttarakhand, is possible if the bill is adopted and implemented by the states," Secretary (Water Resources) S.K. Sarkar told IANS in an interview, adding that the bill will regulate land use in flood plains and contain flood damage.
The bill provides for flood-plain zoning authorities, delineation of flood-plain areas, prohibiting the use of the flood plains and removing obstructions to ensure the free flow of water.
Sarkar said the states have reservations on the bill because of population density pressure and difficulties in relocating people living in flood plain areas.
"There are problems with states also. It (the bill) requires consensus building," he added.
Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat had told a meeting of the Ganga Flood Control Board in January that the ministry was considering a review of the bill and re-circulating it among the states in view of their objections.
Ministry officials said the bill calls for zoning rivers in a way that loss of life and destruction to buildings are prevented or minimised in case of floods.
They said that the bill was aimed at preventing construction of residential areas in vulnerable zones and allowing parks, playgrounds or fields to come up in the low lying areas.
The bill has been drafted by the Central Water Commission (CWC).
Ministry officials said that the bill prioritises different types of buildings and utility services in view of the likely damage they may suffer in case of floods.
They said that defence installations, industries and public utilities, inlcluding alirports and railway stations, should be located in areas that were above the highest flood level in the past several decades.
The officials said that they have been pursuing the model bill with the states and there was a need to not only adopt the bill but implement it as there were increasing intrusions into the flood plains.
They also said any buildings constructed in low lying areas needed "special type of construction."