National Floodplains Zoning Policy

National Floodplains Zoning Policy has been recognized as an effective measure of flood management in India. The Minister of State for Jal Shakti has mentioned about the National Floodplains Zoning Policy in Rajya Sabha recently.

This article will give further details about national floodplains zoning policy within the context of the IAS Exam.

The topic has a very high chance of being asked as a UPSC Prelims Geography or Environment Question. It also forms an important part of the UPSC current affairs section.

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National Flood Plains Zoning Policy – Background

  • A report on response to flood was prepared and presented in Kerala Assembly by Comptroller and Auditor General – CAG. 
  • The report was based on the devastating Kerala floods of 2018. Read about Floods in India
  • The Ministry of Jal Shakti has continuously impressed upon the States the need to adopt flood plain zoning approach.
  • The report pointed out that, 45 years after the Union Government circulated a model draft bill for flood plain zoning legislation to all states. The state is yet to enact flood plain zoning legislation. 
  • This bill envisages zoning of flood plain of a river according to flood frequencies and defines the type of use of flood plain. 
  • Though, delineation and demarcation of flood plains is yet to be undertaken. States such as Manipur, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir had enacted the legislation.

Read in detail about Floods – Definition, Causes & Impact on the given link.

What Is the National Floodplains Zoning Policy?

  • Flood Plain Zoning has been recognized as an effective non-structural measure for flood management. 
    • In 2008, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued guidelines for states for the floodplain zoning as an important “non-structural measure” to mitigate floods.
    • It suggested that concrete structures should not be allowed in the areas that are likely to be affected by floods and should be reserved for green areas like parks, gardens, etc. in a frequency of 10 years.
    • NDMA also talked about other zones in the floodplain where there might be flooding in a 25-year frequency and asked states to make plans accordingly in those areas.
  • The basic concept of flood plain zoning is to regulate land use in the flood plains to restrict the damage caused by floods.

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Features of National Floodplains Zoning Policy

  • The policy lays down limitations on development of both protected and unprotected areas.
  • The Bill provides clauses about flood zoning authorities, surveys and delineation of flood plain area, notification of limits of flood plains, prohibition of the use of the flood plains, compensation and most importantly removing obstructions to ensure free flow of water.
  • The absence of human settlement in those areas would cut down loss of lives and property; hence, it will seek to replace dwellings in low-lying areas by parks and playgrounds.
  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is also aligned to the policy and has advised all states in Ganga basin from time to time for demarcation, delineation and notification of river flood plains and removal of encroachment from river bed/floodplain of the river Ganga and its tributaries in adherence to the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016.

Read to know about Flood control and management on the given link. 

Aim of the National Floodplains Zoning Policy

The aim of the policy is to determine the developmental activities i.e. the locations and the extent of areas for developmental activities will be determined in such a fashion that the damage is reduced to a minimum.

Need of National Floodplains Zoning Policy 

  • India’s high risk and vulnerability is highlighted by the fact that 40 million hectares out of a geographical area of 3290 lakh hectares is prone to floods.
  • On an average every year, 75 lakh hectares of land is affected, 1600 lives are lost and the damage caused to crops, houses and public utilities is Rs. 1805 crores due to floods.
  • Zoning cannot be the remedy for existing situations, but it will definitely help in minimizing flood damage in new developments.
  • Flood plain zoning is not only necessary in the case of floods by rivers but it is also useful in reducing the damage caused by drainage congestion particularly in urban areas.

Constitutional Provisions In Relation To The Policy

  • The action for demarcation of flood plain areas and regulating the activities therein, is to be undertaken by respective state governments as it is the state that deals with the land along the riverbanks and land is a state subject under entry 18 of List II.
    • Based on the inclusion of drainage and embankments as entry 17 of List II (State List), flood control has been seen to fall under the purview of the state government, except in the case of “regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys,” which is mentioned in entry 56 of List I (Union List).

Some related links to help you in preparation – 

Oppositions to Policy Implementation

  • The States are expressing reservation to dig into various aspects of flooding management which includes possible legislation. This is mainly because of the population pressure and the want of alternative livelihood. 
  • There is a substantial expansion in the encroachments into the floodplains. These intrusions are sometimes duly approved and authorized by the town planning authorities. The reason for these encroachments is the unresponsive state towards the enactment of the flooding regulations.

Way Forward With National Floodplains Zoning Policy

  • As floods cause massive destruction to life and property every year, it is time that the central and the state governments prepare a long-term plan which goes beyond piecemeal measures like building embankments and dredging to control floods.
  • An integrated basin management plan is a need of the hour for that brings all the river-basin sharing countries as well Indian states on board.

The topic is found under GS Paper I  and GS Paper III of UPSC Prelims under the head of Government Schemes.

Candidates should follow the latest developments in current affairs related to other government schemes for their UPSC 2023 preparation.

For the best preparation strategy for competitive exams candidates can visit the linked article and get detailed study material and preparation tips to excel in the examination.

Furthermore, to get the latest exam updates, study material and preparation tips, visit BYJU’S.

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