Persistent efforts by the central government have failed to convince states to agree on a model law to remove dwellings from flood-prone areas, thereby minimising loss to life and property.
Led by Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, many state governments have been consistently opposing the draft model flood bill, which was first prepared by the Central Water Commission (CWC) way back in 1975.
The major objection is that rehabilitation of those proposed to be displaced after the dwellings are removed would be a difficult task.
The bill, if implemented, will seek to replace dwellings in low-lying areas by parks and playgrounds since absence of human settlement in those areas would cut down loss of life and property.
The CWC had circulated the model bill to all states to help them enact the legislation. Barring Manipur and Rajasthan, no state legislature has enacted the bill.
“States are apprehensive that the centre will not pay monetary compensation to them if they fail to implement the law in letter and spirit,” said a water resources ministry official.
“Today several such low-lying areas have been given for commercial development and the onus of protecting life and property in such areas lies with the state governments. They know they cannot seek compensation for damage caused in such areas,” the official said.
The centre is now likely to revise the draft. “The government is considering to review the draft bill and re-circulate the Revised Model Flood Plain Zoning Bill for enactment and further action,” water resources minister Harish Rawat recently told a meeting of the Ganga Flood Control Board.
The draft bill also includes clauses about flood zoning authorities, surveys and delineation of flood plain area.