Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Saturday said it has identified 1,989 villages and over 51 lakh people in 19 districts as flood-prone, as it prepares to face the ongoing rainy season.
"In 19 districts, about 1,989 villages have been identified on a preliminary basis- as those likely to be affected by floods and 51,81,359 people have been identified for shifting if there are floods," Revenue Minister R Ashoka said.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Deputy Commissioners of 19 districts that were affected by floods last year, he said nodal officers have been identified at gram panchayat level for all 1,989 villages.
"As a temporary arrangement for those who will be affected by floods 1,747 relief centres have been identified- they are schools, Anganwadi centres, community centres among others," he added.
In August 2019, Karnataka witnessed one of its worst natural calamities when heavy floods affected 103 taluks in 22 districts, killing more than 80 people and displacing nearly seven lakh people.
Ashoka, who is also Vice Chairman of the State Disaster Management Authority, said the Met Department forecast is "normal or 10-15 per cent above normal" rains this year, and in five districts- Dakshina Kannada, Shivamogga, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Hassan- there are chances of deficit rains.
"So far there have been normal rains. August is crucial because last time too in August rains had peaked," he said.
Noting that excess rains locally and release of excess water from dams in neighbouring Maharashtra, Kerala and Goa cause floods in the state, he said Deputy Commissioners in the border districts concerned have been asked to maintain constant contact with their counterparts in those states.
"They will ensure that neighbouring states inform us at least a week before releasing water from the dams there.
The sudden release of water last time from dams in neighbouring states had created a problem and the High Court has also given directions in this regard," he added.
Ashoka said he has directed officials to construct permanent bathrooms, toilet and drinking water facilities at relief centres so that they can be used by students and teachers, in case of schools, once the floods are over.
"A total of Rs 1,144 crore is available in the account of Deputy Commissioners of 19 districts...officials concerned have been directed to inspect bunds of lakes and to certify whether they are in good condition.
A task force will be constituted for proper coordination between departments," he said.
The Minister said NDRF and SDRF teams should hold regular meetings and update about it to the Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, once in 15 days.
The Fire Department has been asked to perform a mock drill to send a message to people that the administration was prepared to handle any situation.
In areas in Udupi, Karwar, Mangaluru, Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu and Hassan- that saw landslides last year, officials have been instructed to shift people to safer places immediately, he said.
Deputy Commissioners of districts have been permitted to purchase all required equipment and a material like machines, generators, pumps, among others, which would later be handed over to the fire department for maintenance.
Also for the first time, a 10 member committee, comprising locals, of which the village accountant will be secretary, is being set up at all flood-prone hamlets for micromanagement of things like shifting people, providing relief materials among others, he said.
The committee will be permanent in nature to address calamities in the future and they will be trained for this.
Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, Ashoka said funds released to Karnataka to take preventive measures against natural disasters like rains and floods has been increased from Rs 108 crore to Rs 318 crore.
"The amount has reached us," he said.
He said, as part of the master plan, fully equipped multipurpose State Disaster Management centres with a medical facility, dormitory, kitchen, counselling room are being set up in flood-prone areas, for which money has been released at Yadgir, Raichur, Udupi, Karwar, Haveri, Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru districts.
"It may cost Rs 5 to 10 crore..during normal times it can be used for other purposes like training, among other things.
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