Kerala Floods
Ecologist Madhav Gadgil said efforts to rebuild the state must not be undertaken in a bureaucratic manner and the public must be involved.
Syed Shiraz Mirza/Wikimedia Commons

Ecologist Madhav Gadgil, who headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, has stated that the primary cause of the floods in Kerala seems to be the simultaneous release of water from the dams.

Giving a talk on the ‘sustainable rebuilding of Kerala’ in Kochi, Gadgil stressed on the need for the rebuilding of Kerala to not be a bureaucratic exercise.

When asked about what could have caused the floods, he said, “Prima facie, the simultaneous release of water from the dams seems to be the reason to have caused the floods.”

In an interview to Livemint, when asked what his theory was about the cause of the Kerala floods, Gadgil said that the most serious cause was bad reservoir management.

“This is, of course, not based on any kind of in-depth understanding or study. But from what I understand, probably the most serious cause was the very bad reservoir management and the sudden release of so much water. Compounding that was all sorts of constructions that have come up where it certainly should not have come up,” he said.

“As I have been saying, there is no justification why the information on how the reservoirs are supposed to be managed (has been) kept hidden. There must be some operating procedure, when it should be released, in what quanta it should be released. These operation manuals should be available for the public to see and for experts outside the system to examine and comment upon,” he added.

When asked during his speech in Kochi whether the Mullaperiyar dam should be decommissioned, Gadgil refrained from making any sweeping statement.

"I prefer not to give any authoritative opinion on an issue in which I really do not have in-depth knowledge. This is the same thing with the decommissioning of the Mullaperiyar and that is why you must bring into discourse people like those at the River Research Centre where they do in-depth studies of these issues.”

Opening matters up for public discussion was a matter Gadgil also brought up. He said that the efforts to rebuild the state must not be undertaken in a bureaucratic manner, but must be opened up and must be undertaken at the grassroot level.

“Kerala, above all states, is actually well-placed to do this. Democratic devolution has progressed to a more advanced level in Kerala than in any other state in the country and Kerala has some very good experiences in particular -- there was this panchayat level mapping in the early 90s and then followed by this people's planning campaign in 1996-97,” he said.

“Do not make this another bureaucratic exercise. To my mind, the so-called scientific expertise that the bureaucracy exercises is actually fraudulent,” he told reporters.