The CM-led apex panel for flood control has not met in the previous two years: LG office in Delhi.
The 22-kilometre stretch of the Yamuna River in Delhi, India, passes through six districts, some of which are prone to flooding due to the rise in water levels and backflow of drains. Recently, the issue of control in Delhi has come into focus as it has been revealed that the apex committee responsible for flood control, headed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, has not met for the past two years, according to officials from the Lieutenant Governor’s (LG) House.
In response to these claims, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government stated that they have been regularly reviewing flood and waterlogging issues with the Minister of Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC), Saurabh Bhardwaj, and the Minister of Public Works Department (PWD), Atishi. They also mentioned that the Chief Minister has been monitoring the situation closely.
To strengthen relief and rehabilitation efforts for the approximately 25,000 people affected, Chief Minister Kejriwal visited a relief camp accompanied by Minister Atishi. Additionally, Minister Bhardwaj inspected a relief camp in Mayur Vihar, while Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena examined affected areas in Delhi’s Raj Ghat area.
The apex flood control committee, chaired by the Chief Minister, consists of all Delhi government ministers, members of parliament, four MLAs, the Chief Secretary, the Commissioner of Police, an MCD commissioner, heads of the NDMC, DJB, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Indian Army, a member of the Central Water Commission, and other stakeholders. The committee’s purpose is to monitor danger levels, safeguard vulnerable points, and ensure coordination among various agencies.
The committee is supposed to convene every year before the onset of the monsoon, typically at the end of June, to review the situation and issue control order for that year. However, the last two years have seen no formal meetings of the committee. The failure to convene these meetings has raised concerns about the lack of preparedness and coordination in handling issues.
According to an order issued by the East district magistrate, who serves as the nodal officer of the apex committee, a proposal was sent to the Chief Minister in June to suggest a suitable time for a meeting. However, the meeting did not take place, and the flood control order was issued without the committee’s input. The LG House officials allege that the Chief Minister deliberately avoided convening the meeting and that subsequent efforts were insufficient and lacked stakeholder involvement.
The officials from LG House have emphasised the importance of early warnings for flooding in Delhi. They have identified specific thresholds for water discharge from Hathini Kund in the Yamuna River and the Najafgarh Drain, stating that the first warning is triggered when the water discharge exceeds 100,000 cusecs and 35,000 cusecs, respectively. In response to such warnings, the panel has the authority to seek assistance from the army and issue directions to protect vulnerable areas. However, the effectiveness of the response to these warnings may be compromised without the convening of the committee.
The Delhi government, on the other hand, has defended its actions by asserting that it has been actively reviewing flood and waterlogging issues since May. They claim to have held a meeting on May 9 led by Ministers Bhardwaj and Atishi with the participation of all relevant departments to assess flood preparedness. Additionally, they state that regular interdepartmental meetings have been taking place to address concerns, and the Chief Minister has personally monitored the situation. According to the government, the issuance of the Flood Control Order followed a thorough process and took historical data into account.
However, the lack of coordination and failure to convene the apex committee responsible for flood control raise significant questions about the preparedness of the Delhi government to handle flood-related issues. Given the consistent threat posed by the Yamuna River to the city, the government must prioritise proactive measures, regular meetings, and stakeholder involvement to ensure effective flood control.
To effectively handle, adequate preparedness, timely response, and coordination among various departments and agencies are essential. This includes establishing clear communication channels and protocols, ensuring the availability of necessary resources, and conducting regular drills and simulations to test response capabilities. The government must engage with relevant stakeholders, such as local communities, NGOs, and experts, to gather valuable insights and ensure a comprehensive approach to flood management.
Furthermore, the government should invest in infrastructure and technology that can aid in flood forecasting and early warning systems. This may include the installation of monitoring stations, river gauges, and real-time data analysis to provide accurate and timely information about rising water levels. Additionally, implementing effective drainage systems, improving river embankments, and promoting eco-friendly measures like rainwater harvesting can contribute to reducing flood risks.
Public awareness and education campaigns are also crucial components of flood preparedness. The government should engage in extensive outreach efforts to educate citizens about the risks associated with flooding, precautionary measures to be taken, and evacuation protocols. By empowering individuals with knowledge and promoting community resilience, the impact of floods can be minimised, and lives and property can be safeguarded.
In conclusion, the Delhi government needs to address the concerns raised regarding their preparedness for flood-related issues. Proactive measures, regular meetings, and stakeholder involvement should be prioritised to ensure effective control. Timely response, coordination among departments, and engagement with relevant stakeholders are vital to protecting the lives and property of those affected by floods. The implementation of infrastructure improvements, advanced technology, and public awareness campaigns will further contribute to minimising flood risks and enhancing the city’s resilience.