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Aloke Chatterjee, Hindustan Times
Patna, November 04, 2012
Geographers preferred minimum human interference with rivers, non-structural changes, better management, changing land use, besides law and policy change for minimising hazards of flood, a perennial problem in Bihar.

Participating in a panel discussion on 'Floods in Bihar' organised as part of the 34th Indian Geography Congress at Patna University (PU) here on Saturday, they suggested use of latest technology for early developing warning systems, extensive mapping of flood prone areas and mass awareness to reduce the impact of flood on human and cattle.

Chairing the panel discussion, AK Sinha, vice chairman, Bihar State Disaster Management Authority, quoting a case study of Bagmati river by People's Science Institute, Dehradun, said flood-prone areas have increased three times over the last 15-20 years.

Favouring nonstructural interventions like better management, changing land use and law and policy changes for effective tackling of floods, rather than structural (engineering) changes, Sinha suggested saving the livestock from flood devastation should be a top priority. "Life in Bihar revolves around livestock as the state has predominantly an agrarian economy," he opined.

Dr LN Ram of PU, said uneven distribution of rainfall since the last few years, combined with huge mount of silt in Kosi, breaking of dykes, embankments and other kind of human interference, were responsible for floods in Bihar. "We are witness to a phenomena where 50% of the actual rainfall of 100 days occur in just 100 hours," he added.

Unlike earthquakes, which hit suddenly, floods, before inundating particular areas, leave at least hints, giving enough time to initiate preventive measures, said Dr J Singh, Gorakhpur University. He vehemently opposed human interference with nature and advised regular mass awareness campaigns for mitigation of flood devastation.

Prof G P Jha, a former teacher of geography department, PU, claimed that changing the cropping pattern would reduce the impact of floods. He advised upgrading settlements and transport system in flood-prone areas. "The government should dig maximum number of tanks and ponds in the Mithilanchal region to protect it from vagaries of floods," said Dr SN Chaudhary, LN Mithila University, Darbhanga.

If tanks and ponds were dug in Mithilanchal it would boost fish farming and makhana cultivation, providing job opportunities to many, he claimed.