Natural Disasters

Floods damage 55,000 houses, kill 511 people this monsoon

The worst affected states in terms of loss of lives have been Karnataka and Maharashtra

 
By Akshit Sangomla
Last Updated: Wednesday 18 July 2018
Since India has been home to natural disasters, it’s not the first or the last time the country is facing such loss. Credit: Meeta Ahlawat
Since India has been home to natural disasters, it’s not the first or the last time the country is facing such loss. Credit: Meeta Ahlawat Since India has been home to natural disasters, it’s not the first or the last time the country is facing such loss. Credit: Meeta Ahlawat

Floods have caused considerable damage across India this season. So much that 91 districts in 12 Indian states have been affected by floods since the beginning of this monsoon. A total of 511 people have lost their lives and 176 people have been injured. Floods have damaged around 55,000 houses with the greatest number being Manipur’s (17,846). People have also lost their means to livelihood as 1,37,008 animals have been affected and crops in an area of 81,147 ha all over the country have been damaged by flood waters.

According to data from the Central Water Commission (CWC), one fifth of global flood related deaths take place in India. In the 64 years from 1953 to 2017, more than one lakh people have died due to floods and damage to crops. Also, infrastructure and housing has been pegged at Rs 3,65,860 crore, which is 3 percent of the country’s current Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This was part of the reply presented to the Rajya Sabha on the loss and damage caused by floods in India. The reply also says, “The main reasons behind floods have been assessed as high intensity rainfall in short duration, poor or inadequate drainage capacity of river, unplanned reservoir regulation and failure of flood control structures.”

Since India has been home to natural disasters, it’s not the first or the last time the country is facing such loss. The year 1977 saw the greatest loss of human lives due to floods with over 11,000 people dying. This is 10.5 per cent of the total loss of lives in 64 years.

The worst affected state in terms of loss of lives has been Karnataka with 128 deaths, while in Maharashtra floods killed 123 people. On the other hand, Assam has seen a huge loss to its animal population with more than 1,30,000 animals being affected by floods, which is 95 per cent of the total across the country. In terms of damage to crops, West Bengal has suffered the most with more than 47,000 ha of its cropping area being inundated by water.

Though states like Bihar and Rajasthan have also seen floods, state officials say that no loss and damage has been reported.

Many states across India, especially ones in the North East, are witnessing a dangerous trend. This monsoon season (June 1-July 16), many of them have received less rainfall than normal and yet have experienced floods.

Number of lives lost and other damages in various states in India due to floods this season June 1 to July 16:

State

Districts affected

Lives lost

Injured

Houses damaged (partial+full)

Animals affected

Crop area affect-ed (ha)

Assam

21

34

-

5023

1,30,203

12,884

Kerala

14

81

27

8069

5469

8,177

Maharashtra

-

123

98

-

65

-

Gujarat

8

27

4

310

110

-

Karnataka

10

128

-

8481

706

3,522

West Bengal

19

72

5

6910

12

47,679

Bihar

-

-

-

-

-

-

Jammu and Kashmir

-

6

6

17

38

3

Manipur

11

9

-

17,846

400

4709

Tripura

8

21

36

7593

5

4173

Mizoram

-

10

-

-

-

-

Rajasthan

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

91

511

176

54,249

1,37,008

81,147

Source: National Disaster Management Authority

For example, till July 16, 21 districts across Assam had experienced floods this season, according to the National Disaster Management Authority’s flood situation report. Out of these, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has rainfall data on 16 districts and 14 of these have had less than normal rainfall this season. The highest deficit of rainfall was recorded in Dhemaji district at 90 per cent. Only Jorhat and Chirang have had excess rainfall of 7 per cent and 42 per cent. The major reason for this scenario is the increase in extreme rainfall events and decrease in long-term rainfall in the region. There is a pattern to this now. For elongated periods of time there is none to very less rainfall creating a deficit and then suddenly there is a series of extreme rain events bringing in torrents of rain causing floods. A recent Down to Earth analysis showed that between July 5 and July 11 there was a 25%-69% jump in excess rainfall in at least 28 districts across the country.

The highest increase (69 per cent) was seen in Bageshwar, Uttarakhand where heavy rain made the Saryu River overflow, causing extensive damage to roads and buildings. In the week from June 28 to July 4, the district had a deficit in rainfall of 61 per cent. In the week following that (July 5 to July 11), it received 236.7 mm rainfall which is 276 per cent of the normal rainfall for that week. This was a swing of 337 per cent week over week.

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