Identification of flood prone areas : we need experts, not politicians to solve this problem

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Flood is becoming a great danger from time to time for the lives of people. There is an urgent need to review the security of people’s lives and properties.

Recent news headlines about tragic casualties by flood in some parts of Europe have stunned the World. Even in Mauritius flood is posing a great danger and threat to us, where many people have been affected and victimized. It is high time that something is done to solve such catastrophic problem. How do we combat this phenomenon?

Some politicians are making a drama out of a crisis at the detriment and expense of flood victims. These politicians are not flood experts but keep showing their profiles on our National TV just to be in the lime light. What we need is good hydrologist experts and good infrastructure engineers and not lame duck politicians to ease the flood problem in this country.

Gibb Society had in 2003 identified about 300 flood prone areas in Mauritius in a report submitted to the government at that time. Since then, works have been done to install new drain pipes in those flood areas.

Nevertheless, the flood keeps coming and endangering people lives as well as agricultural products. Both government and Opposition are always at daggers’ drawn on this flood issue and neither of them admitted to take the blame of bad administration for not doing their job properly.

“Since 2005 the programs that we have done and drafted to combat flood have not been followed and put into practice,” said Rajesh Bhagwan, a former Minister of Environment. Who is to be blamed for that ? That is the question !

On the other side, Anil Bachoo, the former Minister for Public Infrastructure maintains that about Rs 2.5 billion has been invested by the Labour government for drain pipes construction and installations since 2008. With the big torrential rain recorded recently, the accumulation of water had badly provoked the structure and conditions of the drain pipes and caused lots of damages. This has developed into a polemic matter between government and opposition.

The facts have been established that Mauritius has got less than 300 flood prone areas since 2003. This figure comes out of a study made by Gibb Society (Mauritius) for the government at that time on Land Drainage System where flood prone areas are situated. However, no other similar study has been made after 2003.

The authorities at that time claimed that drain pipes costing billions of rupees in several regions of the island have been fixed in Pamplemousses, Ste Croix, Vallée des Prêtres, Poudre-D’Or, Argy, Dagotière, Hermitage, Bel-Air, Rose-Belle, Mahébourg, Grand Bois, Rivière-Noire, Camp-de-Masque, Poudre-d’Or village among others.

However, the problem goes beyond a simple realization of the drain pipes. “One needs to know how to maintain the services and care for these drain pipes and educate the population on the necessity not to obstruct them,” explained an hydrologist expert at that time whilst on visit in Mauritius recently. One focus point which emphasizes similarly the Gibb report. “There are several issues related to human activities which result in flooding of numerous areas and are the main causes of floods of residential areas,” said the report.

Ahmad Macky