The State government is looking to put in place a ₹140-crore disaster risk management tool with the help of the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to reduce the damage caused by floods, as recently witnessed in parts of western Maharashtra.
The USTDA, an independent American think tank, has assessed the losses from floods in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) to $2 billion (₹14,350 crore) within an area of 4,355 sq km in over a decade. Between 2005 and 2015, the USTDA had said in a preliminary report submitted to the government in August, that over 3,000 people have died in floods in the MMR while near 1,50,000 fell sick after flooding.
The government has agreed to the preliminary report, which assesses the losses, and points to the lack of flood management in the region as a cause of concern. According to the report, vulnerable disaster-prone areas are not being identified, new infrastructure projects are not taken up with hazard levels in mind, among other loopholes in the system. The report recommends that the government implement a flood management and vulnerability risk framework through an integrated technology platform.
A senior official of the State Relief and Rehabilitation Department said, “They (USTDA) are suggesting the platform collect and disseminate data, be applicable during and post disaster support while also devising a disaster vulnerability risk index.”
A similar tool was designed earlier in Brazil and Thailand, on GIS-based flood maps and zoning for early warning and forecasts. The system has been implemented in the Thailand Chao Phraya River Basin where flood management was improved in 1,60,000 sq. km. A real-time decision support system provides short and medium-term flood forecasting, reducing the damaging impact of floods, officials said.
The government has assessed the damage from the recent floods in Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara to add up to ₹6,813 crore, and has asked the Centre for assistance to pay compensation to the victims. The floods also invited criticism from experts who had questioned the government’s handling of the crisis and providing relief on time.
A vulnerability index as part of the tool could include a measurement framework with key indicators and reliability assessment to respond to data quality issues. The index will comprise three key components: assessment of vulnerable zones, monitoring of flood impact and the undertaking of continuous assessment, said a senior official.