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China declared 2016 monsoon floods as the second-costliest on record. Heavy monsoon rains after two straight years of drought also caught India unaware. Asian monsoon was never so unpredictable with unprecedented volume of rainfall within a short span of time causing spillover effects.
In India, extreme precipitation events in the first-half (June 1-July 31) of the southwest monsoon season led to sporadic flood-like occurrences in several districts of Assam, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Over 5.1 million people were affected in just three states: Assam, Bihar and West Bengal.
Here is a look at the layered impact that monsoon floods had on environmental and economic well-being of the Asian countries.
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Data Source: Media Reports
Flood fury since independence
Ever since independence, India has constantly witnessed some of the worst natural disasters most frequent among them were floods. People, especially in north, India lived under the threat of flood devastation, which on an annual basis hits thousands of human lives apart from livestock and assets worth billions.
Area affected (M.Ha.) due to flood and heavy rainfall in India (1953 to 2009, 2011 to 2013)
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Population affected (Million) due to flood and heavy rainfall in India (1953 to 2009, 2011 to 2013)
Damage to crops Area in M.Ha. due to flood and heavy rainfall in India (1953 to 2009, 2011 to 2013)
Houses damaged (in thousand) due to flood and heavy rainfall in India (1953 to 2009, 2011 to 2013)
Cattle Lost (in thousand) due to flood and heavy rainfall in India (1953 to 2009, 2011 to 2013)
Human lives lost (in numbers) due to flood and heavy rainfall in India (1953 to 2009, 2011 to 2013)
Damage to public utilities due to flood and heavy rainfall in India (1953 to 2009, 2011 to 2013)
Total damages crops, houses and public utilities in $ due to flood and heavy rainfall in India (1953 to 2009, 2011 to 2013)
Note : $ : Damage crops value + Damage House Value + Damage to Public Utilities.
Source: Central Water Commission, Govt. of India. (ON153)
Ministry of Environment Statistics, Govt. of India. (ON591)
Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 1164, dated on 17.07.2014. & Water Resources Information System Directorate, Govt. of India. (ON874)
State-wise details of damage due to Cyclonic storms, heavy rains, floods and landslides
during 2011-12 to 2014-15
114 years of rainfall data in India
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Data Source: Indian Metrological Department (IMD)
A Simple Solution to the Old Problem of Floods
When flooding occurs, it is traditional to divert water away from inundated floodplains to protect people and reduce damage to homes, farms, businesses and infrastructure. But by then, it is often already too late 14 and the following year the story will repeat itself.
To combat this, hydrogeologist Paul Pavelic worked with his team at the International Water Management Institute to design and trial a new system that protects communities in flood-prone areas before disaster strikes. In this interview, he talks about the concept and reveals early results from testing the technology in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Even a marginal variation in rainfall pattern can influence agricultural production and the stocks and commodities market in a big way. The variability of rainfall is capable of causing flood while the breaks in rainfall lead to agricultural drought. With the possibility of monsoon becoming more unpredictable due to climate change, countries are staring at far more serious consequences in future.
Under such circumstances, it is important to build better capability to simulate day-to-day and intra-seasonal variability of monsoon in climate models. The closer we get to predicting monsoon rain accurately; the better will be our chances to avert the predicaments of climate change.
It is hard to undo unplanned urbanisation, but putting a check on it would require resilience and doggedness from the government. That would prevent further exacerbation of floods.