[Identification of flood prone areas] We need experts not politicians to solve this problem!

Flood is becoming a great danger from time to time to the lives of people where there is an urgent need to review the security of people’s life and property. News headlines recently 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?

Certain politicians in the government 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 on the limelight. 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, billions of rupees has been invested by this government for drain pipes construction and installations since this government is in power. With the big torrential rain recorded weeks ago, the accumulation of water had badly provoked the structure and conditions of the drain pipes and caused lots of damages. “Water, Water everywhere and not a Saint took pity in our soul in agony” would have said Coleridge if he had been alive. Problem of drain infrastructure as a result of flood 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.

Mr Bhagwan, the former Minister for the Environment emphasizes that following this report, works have been carried away for the country in order to get a better system of water evacuation. He recalls the works done at “Canal Anglais” and “Ruisseau du Pouce” and many drain pipes that have been constructed and installed in several villages such as Amaury and ‘Petite Julie’.  “It was an on going process which has seen the collaboration of several institutions, the NDU certainly, but also the Municipalities and the Ministry of Public Utilities”, said Mr Bhagwan.

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 a hydrologist expert at that time whilst on visit in Mauritius recently. One focus point which emphasizes similarly 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.

By Ahmad Macky