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PUCL Bulletin, November 2006

Gujarat NGO's to help in flood relief

Gujarat Civil Society is active on Flood front of the state with two public inquires are being held to suggest flood mitigation measures.

Narmada Abhiyan and Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal, both non political voluntary organizations are concerned with use of water as a development input. As shortage of water creates problems, access water is also hazardous for lives of people and cattle as well as for property and crops. The unparallel flood in Sabarmati, Mahi, Vishvamitri and Ukai, have created havoc in Gujarat. Central Government as well as State Government will inquire in to the issue of floods and their effects in their own way. The civil society also has to generate knowledge for mitigation of such hazards. Various professionals and experts on the issue of water can help civil society in this regard. Having felt a need for generating such knowledge Narmada Abhiyan and Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal decided to appoint an inquiry committee.

The committee will look into and consider following aspects:

1. The magnitude of recent floods in Gujarat
2. The prevailing flood control practices and flood manuals at Sardar Sarovar, Dharoi, Vanakbori, Kadana and Ukai dams and their effectiveness.
3. Desilting of major rivers.
4. Warning mechanism, shifting of people and cattle.
5. A rough estimate of damage done to lives, property and standing crops.
6. Possibility of using access water for filling ponds and recharging ground water and
preparing channels for diverting access water; use of Pala system and effect of river front project.
7. Any other relevant aspects for flood mitigation that chairperson and committee may consider.

In order to generate such knowledge and create people's awareness, Narmada Abhiyan and Sarvodaya Mandal propose to appoint a committee of following citizens:

1. Justice RA Mehta, Retd. Justice of Gujarat High Court-Chairperson 2. Dr CD Thatte, Retd. Chairman CWC 3. Dr Manda R Parikh, Economist and Trustee of Gujarat Vidhyapeeth 4. Shri KR Date, Water expert. 5. Shri Mihir Bhatt, Director, Disaster mitigation institute 6. Shri Digant Oza, Editor Jalsewa 7. Shri Rajesh Bhatt, Ahmedabad Study action group 8. Shri Hasmukh Patel, Water shed activist 9. Dr KK Khakkhar, Economist

On the other hand citizen's Council Surat formed an eight-member expert committee. The committee is likely to submit its report latest by October 30. The panel has been set up with two main purposes. One is to put pressure on the Government to apply right ways to protect city from floods and the other is to create awareness through findings by experts.

The experts on the committee are: soil expert and retired professor of SVNIT, MD Desai; technocrat from Mumbai, KR Date; Social Scientist, Ghanshyam Shah; hydrology expert from SVNIT, Prof HL Patel; Ravin Tailor, a PhD student; eminent journalist Digant Oza; senior advocate IJ Desai; and director of Centre for Social studies, Biswaroop Das.

The findings of Surat Committee will be suitably used by Gujarat level committee to prepare flood mitigation plan. Vidhyut Joshi, Gautam Thaker .

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014