Flood causes terrible loss of life and property. In Assam alone about 22.43 lakh hectares of land was flooded in July 2004 floods. Thousands of people are rendered homeless. Their houses are flooded and their cattle and goods get washed away. Many villages and towns are submerged forcing the inhabitants to flee for life. It destroys properties worth crores of rupees. Crops are destroyed and cultivable lands go under water. Bridges are broken, roads get destroyed and communication links are disrupted.
In other words, flood causes untold misery and terrible economic hardships. Flood also results in the spread of water-borne diseases and various types of communicable diseases. It also causes a rise in the price of essential commodities and creates scarcity of food and fresh water. It leads to general famine in the area and aggravates the problem of rural poverty and backwardness.
As soon as flood occurs, the government immediately takes certain relief measures. Relief measures are of two types: (i) Short-term measures and (ii) Long-term measures. The short-term relief measures consist of setting up of relief camps, free distribution of food, clothes and medicines. While long-term measures include distribution of seedlings, remission of dues to the government, granting of loans and subsidies for construction of houses, compensation for loss of crops, etc.
Unfortunately, these measures often come too late or, are too inadequate to meet the hardships caused by floods. The main preventive measures consist of steps such as, the construction of check-dams and reservoirs, establishment of several river-valley projects, creation of embankments, dredging of riverbeds, etc. But, these steps have failed to reduce the menace that has been hitting India, year after year, with all might and fury.
India’s rivers carry huge sedimentation due to the Himalayan connection. Under these circumstances a few favourable multi purpose projects in selected northern tributaries will be fruitful. Moreover, frequent erosion of river banks at different places in one of the major problem that needs to be controlled by proper protection measures in areas like Majuli in Assam. Restoration and conservation of forests is another very important protection measure against erosion of soil and the management of flood.
Food disaster management in the flood prone areas of our country is necessary where technically qualified people such as scientists, engineers, geologists, meteorologists, etc. can prepare a successful plan. This is very important for immediate planning at the time of flood and after the flood for rehabilitations and also for forecasting along with preparedness. In this manner the severe consequences of this major natural calamity can be minimised.