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What is Flood Plain Zoning?

Flood Plain Zoning

Flood Plain Zoning is a smart way to deal with floods. It’s all about controlling how we use land in areas that can flood, to reduce the harm floods can do. It’s like putting rules in place to keep our homes and communities safe when the waters rise.


Determining Developmental Activities: It aims at determining the locations and the extent of areas for developmental activities in such a fashion that the damage is reduced to a minimum.

Adds Limitations: It envisages laying down limitations on development of both the unprotected as well as protected areas.

  • In the unprotected areas, boundaries of areas in which developmental activities will be banned, are to be established to prevent indiscriminate growth.
  • In the protected areas, only such developmental activities can be allowed, which will not involve heavy damage in case the protective measures fail.

Utility: Zoning can’t fix current issues, but it can certainly reduce flood damage in new construction. Floodplain zoning is vital not only for river-related floods but also for lessening damage from urban drainage problems, especially in cities.

What is a Model Bill for Flood Plain Zoning?

The proposed legislation includes rules related to managing flood-prone areas. It covers aspects like designating flood zoning authorities, conducting surveys to identify flood-prone regions, marking the boundaries of flood plains, preventing any construction on these flood plains, providing compensation, and crucially, clearing any obstacles to allow water to flow freely.

One of its main goals is to replace homes in low-lying areas with parks and playgrounds. This move aims to reduce the risk of loss of lives and property, as having no human settlements in these vulnerable areas can help protect people and their belongings during floods.

Challenges in Implementation

  • Many states have shown reluctance in addressing the different aspects of floodplain management, including potential legislation.
  • States are hesitant primarily because of population pressures and the lack of alternative livelihood opportunities.
  • The states’ tepid response to implementing and enforcing floodplain regulations has led to a noticeable rise in encroachments on floodplains. Sometimes, these encroachments are even authorized and approved by town planning authorities.
  • The responsibility for flood control is divided between state and central governments in India. States handle matters related to drainage, embankments, and floodplain zoning, with exceptions for inter-state rivers, which come under the central government’s purview.
  • Floodplain zoning primarily falls under the jurisdiction of state governments as it involves managing land along riverbanks, which is a state-level concern.
  • The central government’s role is limited to offering advice and setting guidelines for flood control, as there are no direct mentions of flood control and mitigation in the Constitution’s legislative lists.
  • In 2008, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued guidelines to states for floodplain zoning, which is considered a crucial non-structural approach to reduce flood impacts. These guidelines recommend designating areas at risk of flooding every 10 years as green spaces like parks and gardens, restricting concrete structures in those zones.
  • The NDMA also advised states to plan for areas prone to flooding every 25 years, ensuring preparedness and mitigation measures in those regions.

Way Forward

Every year, devastating floods wreak havoc on lives and property. It’s high time that both the central and state governments come together to create a comprehensive, long-term strategy that goes beyond temporary fixes like building embankments and dredging to manage flooding. What we truly need is a well-coordinated river basin management plan that involves all the countries sharing the river basin, as well as Indian states, working together to address this pressing issue.

Read Also: Disaster Management Plan of Panchayat Level

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