T. Nandakumar, Member, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), says the plan would define the role of every department, institution and official in preventing and handling a crisis.

The municipal corporations in Kerala may soon be held accountable for failure to prevent urban flooding. The State Disaster Management Plan (SDMP), slated to be ready in 2014, is likely to have guidelines making civic bodies responsible for pre-monsoon cleaning, solid-waste management and preventing constructions in low-lying areas that act as natural drainage channels.

T. Nandakumar, Member, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), says the plan would define the role of every department, institution and official in preventing and handling a crisis. “For example, the role of a municipal corporation in a city which gets flooded every monsoon needs to be clearly spelt out. We need to hold them to a certain level of accountability: that drains must be cleaned, waste must be disposed of. Simple things, but it often does not happen. And then, you can always blame the heavy rain. But rain does not come according to our design,” he said.

Serious look

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Nandakumar, who was here last week to review the activities of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), said Kerala would have to take a serious look at urban flooding. “Every time it rains, you cannot have flooding in cities. The NDMA has clear guidelines on this. There is a little bit of work that Corporations have to do. You cannot allow drains to be choked and then complain about flooding. The SDMA is expected to look at implementing some of these guidelines,” he said.

Mr. Nandakumar said local bodies, like other agencies, had a role to play in disaster mitigation, preparedness, and response. “It is important to define the architecture and then develop standard operating procedures. That is a detailed exercise,” he said.

The NDMA, he said, is encouraging Kerala to develop an inundation map for better management of floods. “Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar are developing models based on rainfall and river flow estimates to anticipate flooding. Though not accurate, some of these models have been found useful in evacuating people,” he said.

On the need to share information and expertise, he said, “Some States such as Bihar and Assam have excellent flood management plans, while Gujarat has expertise in handling earthquakes and chemical disasters.”