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In Deep Waters  

What is the scenario of floods in India in 2019?

1. In 2019, the floods have affected almost all of India during the monsoon season.

2. It has not only affected the hilly regions of the Western Ghats but also the fertile and urban areas of Karnataka and Maharashtra.

3. Bihar, Assam, and Gujarat have faced similar devastation, as has Uttarakhand with landslides and cloud bursts.

Why have the flood situations aggravated in India?

1. Erratic Rainfall- Regularly occurring heavy and relentless rains over a shorter window.

2. Dam mismanagement

i. Lack of coordination from different dam authorities.

ii. Many dams have not maintained their storage even after prior predictions of heavy rainfall.

iii. Delayed or knee-jerk discharges from dams.

3. Land degradation

i. Structural changes in land use, diversion of forestlands, razing of mountain slopes, and blocked streams have led to a loss of seepage spaces and natural channels for drainage, causing landslides and flash floods in the Western Ghats and in Himalayan states.

ii. Human tampering with geomorphic integrity of land has led to increased instances of urban flooding, resulting in devastating consequences.

iii. Plastic wastes are further choking the cities like Pallakad in Kerala.

iv. Erratic construction of buildings without taking into consideration the course of rivers.

4. Other reasons

i. Sealed floodplains, flattened ponds, mangroves, wetlands, and riverbeds prevent the natural mechanisms of land to absorb, contain in, and thus mitigate the impacts of heavy rainfall.

These factors have caused and worsened floods in Uttarakhand in 2013, Chennai in 2015, Kerala and Karnataka in 2018 and 2019, and Maharashtra in 2005 and 2019.

How does dam-made flood affect people?

1. These are man-made floods, which do not have the rhythm of natural floods with which people are more familiar.

2. These floods unleash in a sudden manner causing greater damage to life and property.

3. There is a greater level of displacement of the population due to dam-made floods during the monsoon season.

Which are the steps needed to be taken?

1. Basin level plans for rivers

2. Eco-restoration of catchments.

3. Maintenance of drainage system.