A flood of negligence

A flood of negligence

It is unfortunate and no surprise that the flood in Orissa is yet another story of man-made disasters, coming just after the Bihar one, on account of gross apathy by government agencies.

Top bureaucrats responsible for the matter have already admitted that it was lack of timely repair and maintenance work on the Kosi embankments by India that wreaked havoc in Bihar. This, despite daily updates on rising water levels at their disposal for several months. Orissa is now suffering, thanks to similar, indeed criminal, negligence.

Analysing weekly data released by the Central Water Commission, and daily data from the Orissa government about water flow in the Mahanadi river and reservoir levels in the Hirakud dam, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, an NGO, has pointed to a total disconnect between information and action by the government.

It has highlighted how despite having a flood control cushion, apathy in operating the dam—filling up the reservoir to full capacity before the end of the monsoon, in violation of an official expert committee recommendation—has led to an avoidable flood disaster.