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Disaster management recommendations still in cold storage

The comprehensive report had suggested that statutory bodies should examine the plan of the buildings at identified vulnerable zones before the construction stage itself

An initiative of the Indian Institute of Architects, the Department of Town and Country Planning, the National Institute of Technology – Calicut to mitigate natural calamities in Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts, against the background of the massive floods of 2018, still remains in cold storage.

The comprehensive report titled " Post Disaster Assessment of Great Flood of 2018" had suggested that statutory bodies should examine the plan of the buildings at identified vulnerable zones before the construction stage itself. The study conducted based on the guidelines of the United Nations Post Disaster Needs Assessment found about 90% of the affected areas were in the regions where the slope of the hill is above 50 degrees.

When the calamity and its effects were at peak, 41,565 persons were relocated in 297 relief camps in Kozhikode district while 55, 413 people had to be shifted to 237 camps in Malappuram district. A total of 247 landslips occurred in Wayanad district.

Over 5,000 people from Licensed Engineers and Supervisors Federation, Registered Engineers and Supervisors in Kerala, National Service Scheme and several Non Governmental Organisations volunteered to collect data and survey to study the reasons for the calamity and provide steps to prevent flooding in these three districts.

Incorporating no development zones in strategies on land use in existing ecologically sensitive and coastal regulation zones and removing vegetation in and around rivers were some of the suggestions. Also, each zone should be identified, marking them as high vulnerable zones (red), moderate vulnerable zones (orange), and mild vulnerable zones (yellow).

Besides, the report recommended expansion of channel size, dams, levee bank and catchment and clearing all works that have degraded the hill-slopes, rivers and floodplains.

Recommendations also sought the local bodies to carry out tree pruning and desilting of drains before the monsoon since areas that have been highly modified by human activity tend to suffer deleterious effects from flooding.

Also, the study found that the economically constrained groups were mostly affected due to the floods in these regions. Over 60% of the damaged houses were RCC structures and 30% traditionally built tiled roof structures. This was attributed to the owners using different types of construction materials rather than depending on locally available resources.

The report had suggested power back systems at the local levels and the introduction of solar units as an alternative in the case of power outages. Electricity failures had resulted in the disruption to mobile towers. So it was suggested the laying of optical fibre cables of all landlines with proper protection.

Rejuvenation of existing paddy fields and re-looking at the use of agricultural land were recommended for rebuilding the agriculture sector.

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