PC: Janam

VERDICTUM NEWS DESK

The 5th report submitted by the Amicus Curiae today in The Foundation for Restoration of National Values v State of Kerala & Ors has taken some of the sheen of the Kerala Government’s carefully constructed image in light of the floods which devastated the state in 2018. The report is a damning indictment of how official apathy combined with bureaucratic lethargy transformed a natural disaster into a man-made calamity and recommends a judicial enquiry by a judge of a superior court aided by a team of experts in hydrology, dam management and engineering to identify the various causes and factors which resulted in the worsening of floods.

The report quotes extensively from reports of the CAG to the Central Water Commission to paint a dismal picture of the Kerala’s preparedness in disaster management.For instance,quoting the CAG report onSchemes for Flood Control and Flood Forecasting, 2017“, it notes that no flood forecasting stations had been established in the state and there was no Emergency Action Plans for any of the 61 dams, as was the case with hydrology studies, inundation maps and flood plain zoning. Further, the submissions in various affidavits filed in defence of the state would show that dams in Kerala had not maintained flood controlled zones, and the flood cushion said to have been maintained did not meet the mandated standards set out by the Bureau of Indian Standards and the Central Water Commission.

While all of the above egregious mistakes would have been excused as “typical” in light of the perennially dysfunctional state of our officialdom, what turns the matter from one of inefficiency to downright criminal negligence is the finding that the various alerts issued to those living in areas inundated by the floods were not in accordance of the Emergency Action Plan Guidelines and where the highest level alert was issued, “no proper follow-up action and effective precautionary action …. were taken” even after.

The hearing of the batch of writ petitions will happen only once Court reopens after summer vacation.

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