Despite their annual nature, India remains unprepared for floods that damage states, claim hundreds of lives and ravage valuable resources worth thousands of crore year after year. In lieu of waiting for the heavy rains to destroy livestock, the state government of Maharashtra has recently introduced a water policy to mitigate any consequences of droughts.
Having a water discharge policy in-line will encourage groundwater recharge, and securing floodplains to tackle floods. The policy also calls for the corporate sector to channel their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities towards the state water policy 2019 introduced by the state government.
The policy states that the ‘Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan’ program will be continued as a long-term drought mitigation measure, with the target of impacting 5,000 villages every year.
Further aiding the CSR initiatives and community participation, Gal Mukta Dharan’ and ‘Gal Yukta Shivar’ programs were also launched to restore the storage capacity of the water pathways through the practice of desilting and turning the surrounding barren lands fertile.
However, the experts have raised concerns regarding initiatives such as Jalyukt Shivar which they objectify on being commercialized. “While the initiative is laudable, it is important that Jalyukt Shivar is carried out in a scientific manner. Various communities have been carrying out the work with the help of NGOs and subject matter experts. Involving corporates could also lead to a potential conflict of interest too,” said Milind Murugkar, a noted water expert.
The state government has also released a series of directions for the local authorities, which prohibit habitation and economic activities in floodplain zones “Around seven per cent of the state’s geography is flood-prone. The policy includes developing a decision support system (DSS) for flood forecasting in flood-prone areas for site-specific issues. We would be alerting authorities and citizens through SMS and digital notifications in these areas,” said a senior official from the water resources department.
“Emergency action plans/disaster management plans will be periodically reviewed and updated by involving people in flood-prone area. To increase preparedness for sudden and unexpected flood related disasters, dam break analysis must be carried out, (sic)” read the policy.
For industrial water management, industries will take steps to recycle and reuse water, and follow a ‘Zero effluent’ policy under the Maharashtra Pollution control board monitoring.