ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Role of Dams in Kerala’s Flood Disaster

During the July–August 2018 floods in Kerala, basic norms were violated in the management of dams, which, if operated prudently, could have alleviated the magnitude of the disaster. In this context, a strategy for the management of dams to mitigate similar disasters has been outlined.

In theory, every dam can help moderate floods in the downstream areas, as long as it has space to store water, and depending on the amount of space available. In fact, every action that helps store, hold, recharge (to groundwater aquifers), or delay the flow of rainwater from the catchment to the river helps moderate its flow, and, in turn, moderates floods in the river. However, our catchments are fast losing this capacity, due to the continued destruction of natural forests, wetlands, local waterbodies, and also the soil’s capacity to hold water.

Here, the typicality of Kerala’s situation needs to be kept in mind: Kerala is almost entirely a part of the Western Ghats—being a high biodiversity area and having a fragile ecology—and has mountains on one side, and the sea on the other. It is a traditionally high-rainfall state, with some parts receiving a double monsoon, and the entire state is close to the equator and the sea. Kerala’s 44 rivers have relatively short lengths and high slopes. The state has over 60 large dams, and a highly urbanised society.

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Updated On : 26th Sep, 2018

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