Dr Reddy: Need to update legislation and policies

Waterways minister Mahendra Reddy exits the Government office at parliament on Tuesday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

LEGISLATION and policies need to be updated in order to address the flooding issue in the country, says Minister for Waterways Dr Mahendra Reddy. Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, he said introducing new policies would ensure the balance between managing water systems and maintaining human activity near rivers.

“While there is a need to modify our catchments and waterways to support essential agricultural, economical and social activity, it is also imperative to balance these needs with maintaining a healthy environment,” he said.

“As such it requires a sustained combination of technology, legal and institutional frameworks, and where feasible, market-based approaches and capacity building to address this.

“In addition to capacity building, the challenge is not only to develop new approaches but also to facilitate the practical, timely and cost-effective implementation of existing international and other agreements, policies and targets, which can provide a basis for cooperation to seek funding opportunities to further our work to better manage our water resources.

“This, therefore indicates we need to update our legislations and introduce policies that provide institutional support for such activities.”

He said the ministry recorded high rainfall in Ba during the April floods and this suggested a need to improve its river catchment.

“Based on post flood observations and anecdotal evidence of the Easter floods in the Ba catchment, it seems that the rainfall over March 31 and April 1 was very heavy and very intense.

“Intense rainfall resulted in a rapid ‘flash’ event with high discharges experienced, especially in the upper reaches of the Ba catchment.

“The most plausible explanation for such observation is catchment characteristics, its modification and impacts on propagating runoff during such events.

“As indicated earlier, runoff at very basic is a function of rainfall, catchment surface, catchment slope and infiltration capacity and if we are able to influence either of these we can mitigate runoff from our catchments.”

Meanwhile, in his ministerial statement in Parliament, Dr Reddy said, water management could not be done in isolation.