Adv. Jacob P. Alex was appointed by the Kerala High Court as the Amicus Curiae in the batch of cases relating to the 2018 floods considering his knowledge about the subject. He has authored an acclaimed paper titled ‘Disaster Management: Towards A Legal Framework’, in the year 2006, which was published in collaboration with the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences and United Nations Development Programme by the Indian Institute of Public Administration. He has submitted a report
10 Point Summary of Report filed by Amicus Curiae before the Kerala High Court.
The report of the Amicus Curiae confirms what numerous experts have already said. Metro Man E Sreedharan has already approached the High Court alleging that the Kerala Flood was a manmade disaster.
- Primary responsibility for flood control is with the State Government. Role of Central Government is only to provide assistance to States. State Government was duty bound to implement guidelines/manuals of the Central Water Commission and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). (para 9)
- State Government was wrong in comparing the floods with the one that occurred in the year 1924. State Government was wrong in trying to imply that the events that lead to the flood were uncontrollable and unmanageable. State Government was wrong in implying that it was helpless as it was during the 1924 floods since there are significant developments in the field of science and technology and since assistance of specialized institutions under the Central Government is now available. (para 13.3)
- State Government failed to use even a single dam out of the 79
damsfor the purpose of flood control or moderation, despite the obligation to do so under the National Water Policy, NDMA Guidelines on floods, the Real Time Integrated Operation of Reservoirs by Central Water Commission (RTIOR) etc. Therefore, the state acted under a wrongimpression that all the dams in Kerala are either meant for power generation or irrigation. (para 13.3)
- State Irrigation Department, as well as
KSEBhad not maintained effective Flood Control Zone in their dams and the Flood Cushion said to have been maintained was not as mandated by the BIS Report, RTIOR and O&M Manual. Whether and to what extent the noncompliance could have affected the situation is a matter for further enquiry. (para 13.3)
- Reservoirs were almost full before the extreme rainfall occurred. The sudden release of water resulted in worsening the floods in Kerala. Sudden flooding in most areas, which caught citizens unprepared, was a result of sudden release of a large quantity of water from the dams. (para 13.5)
- The storage capacity of reservoirs in the State had reduced due to siltation and sedimentation. The Dam Safety Report and O&M Manual mandate keeping a tab on this, which was not done by the State authorities. (para 13.6)
- None of the dams in Kerala had updated rule curves (plan for operation all
roundthe year), as was recommended by the Central Water Commission (CWC) Report, specifically in reference to flood situation. (para 13.7) None of the dams in Kerala had an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), despite NDMA mandate to have the same by 2009. (para 13.8)
- The alerts i.e. warnings to the public (Blue/Orange/Red) were not issued in accordance with the EAP Guidelines. Even with respect to the improper alerts that were issued, the State did not furnish the details regarding the action taken by it before and after issuance of the alert. Since proper follow up action or effective precautionary steps were not taken, people in many places were clueless about the sudden rise of water and possible level of inundation. (para 13.9)
- State irrigation department and KSEB put the blame on Indian Metrological Department (IMD) by stating that they were relying on forecasts by the IMD, overlooking the disclaimer on the front page of the website of IMD that their data can’t be used for such purpose. Hence the excuse of State government and KSEB is not justified. Furthermore, the CWC has no Flood Foretasting Station in Kerala since the State government did not send any proposal for the same. (para 13.10)
- State Government has taken a stand that no further study on Kerala Floods is required based solely on a rapid assessment report of the CWC. Similarly, while remaining silent on non-compliance with various policies/guidelines/reports etc. regarding operation and maintenance of dams in the State, Kerala Dam Safety Authority has also adopted the same stand. Given that the floods resulted in loss of 433 lives, displacement of 1.4 million people out of the 5.4 million people affected and damages of Rs.26,720 crores, such stand of the State Government and Kerala Dam Safety Authority is not acceptable and detailed enquiry by an independent expert inquiry committee headed by a Supreme Court Judge is recommended. (para 15)