Climate Change

India saw natural disasters almost every day in first 9 months of 2022: CSE report

Highest toll in Himachal Pradesh; official data inadequate to show real extent of loss & damage

By Preetha Banerjee
Published: Tuesday 01 November 2022

India recorded extreme weather events on 241 of the 273 days from January 1 through September 30, 2022, according to a new report. These include heatwaves, coldwaves, cyclones, lightning, heavy rainfall, floods and landslides.

Madhya Pradesh was the worst-hit, with one event every second day, according to the report released by Delhi-based non-proft Centre for Science and Environment and Down To Earth (DTE) magazine.

Download the report: India 2022: An Assessment of Extreme Weather Events

The number of deaths due to these events was the highest in Himachal Pradesh (359), while Madhya Pradesh and Assam witnessed 301 human deaths each, India 2022: An Assessment of Extreme Weather Events launched November 1, 2022 showed.

Assam reported the highest number of damaged houses and animal deaths, according to the analysis. Karnataka, which experienced an extreme weather event on 82 days, accounted for more than 50 per cent of the crop area affected in the country.

The estimation is most likely an underestimate as data for each event, including losses of public property or crop loss, has not been collated or estimated, according to the report. 

Madhya Pradesh did not report any crop area damage and this could be because of gaps in loss and damage reporting, it added. 

Every day of the three monsoon months (June to August) had heavy to very heavy as well as extremely heavy rainfall in some parts of the country, analysts Kiran Pandey, programme director of CSE’s Environmental Resources unit, and Rajit Sengupta, associate editor of DTE, wrote in the report.

“This is why the flood devastation has not spared any region,” the authors noted. In Assam, for instance, vast parts of the state were submerged leading to loss of lives, property and livelihoods, according to the report.

Lightning and storms were spread over 30 states and claimed 773 lives. Heat waves claimed 45 lives.

Sunita Narain, director-general of CSE, said:

This is the watermark of climate change. It is not about a single event but about the increased frequency of the events — that what we saw as the one in 100 years extreme event has now been compressed to become one in five years or even less.

The researchers collated data from two key Indian government sources the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the Disaster Management Divisionof the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, along with media reports to fill the gaps in official data.

Region-wise, central and north-western India reported the highest number of days (198 and 195 respectively) with extreme weather events. In terms of human lives lost, central India topped the list with 887 deaths, followed by the East and North East India (783 deaths). 

The nine months studied also recorded several days of extreme weather conditions: 

  • Seventh wettest January since 1901
  • Warmest and third-driest March in 121 year 
  • Third-warmest April
  • 11th-warmest August 
  • 8th-warmest September since 1901 

Eastern and northeastern India saw its warmest and driest July in 121 years, according to the report. “The region also recorded its second warmest August and fourth warmest September in 2022.”

The authors of the report highlighted the shortcomings of loss and damage data published by departments. The impact of prolonged high temperatures on people’s well-being in North India, for instance, is not factored into the official data on heat waves. 

Fatalities due to cyclones were few. Narain praised IMD for its timely warnings to help governments prepare for the disasters.

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