NEW DELHI:- With the Centre finally declaring that permanent immunity against floods is not techno-economically feasible, the Government of Assam may have to soon take a call on enacting the model Bill on flood plain zoning.Official sources said that the Ministry of Water Resources, River Management and Ganga Rejuvenation has already conveyed to the states that permanent immunity against floods is not techno-economically feasible and instead they may have to pass the 1975 enacted model Bill on flood plain zoning.
Long-term solution to the problem of flood also lies in construction of multi-purpose projects with flood cushion in the upper reaches of the rivers in order to attenuate high flood intensity, an official of the ministry opined.

However, both the solutions extended by the Centre may land Sonowal government in a tight spot in light of the stiff opposition to the construction of dams in upper reaches of the Brahmaputra river. The flood plain zoning on the other hand may prove to be a political landmine for the State government.

A model Bill for flood plain zoning was prepared by the CWC way back in 1975 and circulated to all the states. The Bill was again circulated in October, 1996. The states of Manipur, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand have enacted legislations for the Bill and initial actions have been taken by Uttarakhand, sources said.

The Government of Manipur has enacted the flood plain zoning legislation in 1978, but the demarcation of flood zones has not been done as yet. The response from the state governments towards enactment of flood plain zoning legislation has not been encouraging, sources admitted.

The flood plain zoning proposes creation of separate authorities, surveys and delineation of flood plain area, notification of limits of flood plains, prohibition or restriction of the use of the flood plains, compensation and power to remove obstruction. “The Model Bill for Flood Plain Zoning, 1975 proposes to provide for the zoning of flood plains of rivers in the states of India,” sources said.

The ministry has repeatedly impressed upon the state governments to enact flood plain zoning legislation. Views have not been received from any state except Bihar. The Bihar government has conveyed that the flood plain zoning Bill is neither practicable nor implementable in the state of Bihar. The ministry had last written to the state governments in 2107.

Sources said that impacts of floods can be mitigated to a reasonable degree by adopting appropriate structural and non-structural measures. The Government of India through Central Water Commission (CWC) is running and maintaining an elaborate network of flood forecasting stations through which advance flood warnings are issued to the concerned agencies.

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