• A committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has warned that encroachments in the floodplain area of Mahanadi river in Odisha.
  • the National Green Tribunal has formed a panel of experts from the Central Water Commission, National Institute of Hydrology and state and central pollution control board for laying down norms to ensure that the construction of the medical college and river front development takes place without damage to the flood plains of the river.

More about news


  • In January 2020 Chief Minister of Odisha had announced that the 424 acres reclaimed from the river Mahanadi would be utilised to add ecological, recreational, sporting, cultural and technological value in the lives of the people of Cuttack.


  • A local citizen approached the NGT against the state government’s plan alleging that illegal construction activities will adversely affect the river ecology and disturb the flow of Mahanadi river.

Basics about flood plain

    • A floodplain or flood plain or flood-plain is an area of land adjacent to a stream or river which stretches from the banks of its channel to the base of the enclosing valley walls, and which experiences flooding during periods of high discharge
    • The soils usually consist of clays, silts, sands, and gravels deposited during floods.
    • A floodplain consists of two parts. The first is the main channel of the river itself, called the floodway. Floodways can sometimes be seasonal, meaning the channel is dry for part of the year.
    • Beyond the floodway is the flood fringe. The flood fringe extends from the outer banks of the floodway to the bluff lines of a river valley.


  • Some floodplains are extraordinarily wide. The Barotse floodplain of the Zambezi River, for example, is a vast wetland stretching thousands of kilometers through Angola, Zambia, and Botswana.


Significance of floodplains


  • Floodplains have dazzling arrays of biodiversity. These seasonal riparian wetlands boast greater biodiversity than the rivers themselves.


  • Clean water – Rivers carry sediment, nutrients, and other pollutants, especially when they are running high and fast after a storm. A healthy floodplain gives rivers the space to spread out and slow down, which allows such sediment to settle.
  • Flood storage – Floodplains take on and store excess water in times of flood, releasing it slowly over land and into groundwater. The flood storage capacity of floodplains means that there is less likelihood that floodwater will end up in your basement. Floodplains do not eliminate all risk of property damage, but when they are managed wisely they can definitely help.
  • Groundwater recharge – Rainwater travels deep into the ground of a floodplain to replenish groundwater supply.  Groundwater travels slowly into rivers, lakes, and wetlands, regulating the availability of water during drier periods when people, plants, and animals need it most.
  • Food – Floodplains have rich, fertile soils that have made them attractive to farmers for generations. Sustainable agricultural practices can help support key floodplain functions.
  • Culture – Floodplains provide numerous recreational opportunities via lakes, rivers, hiking trails, and spaces to see thriving wildlife. In addition, the long history of settlement in floodplains as people have been drawn to the fertile land and abundant resources create a shared culture and sense of place in these locations.
  • Sustainable Agriculture: Floodplains by Design helps to keep agriculture operations out of the most flood-prone areas, provides natural buffers to streams from farm and ranch operations, and targets restoration activities at the most ecologically valuable places.
  • Forestry Management and Carbon Sequestration: Floodplains by Design aims to protect and restore some of the highest value floodplain forests, including the bottomland hardwood forests of low-lying areas. These areas have high value for biodiversity and are important areas for carbon sequestration – whether in restoring previously harvested areas or protecting existing forest stocks.

Way forward

  • Humans have always been attracted to floodplains because of their many sustaining attributes. Human development and industrialization take a toll on the natural functions of the floodplains. Development in the floodplains causes decreases in water quality, loss of wildlife habitats, and an increase in severity and frequency of flood losses. 
  • Understanding the importance of maintaining the natural functions of floodplains can lead to better floodplain management approaches that will better protect the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains.

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