Millennium Post

Battling monsoon

While in north India we recuperate from the impact of man-made disasters, Eastern India is being ravaged by what comes forth seemingly as an effect of nature's fury. Each year the Indian sub-continent faces the wrath of the unpredictable monsoons, which, by the periodicity of their devastation have become predictable over time. Eastern India especially is wrecked, each year by floods that cause massive damage to lives, livestock, property, production and assets. Anything which comes in the way of gushing water is destroyed by the might of nature. Despite developing the most advanced warning systems, and boasting of one of the most efficient disaster response forces, little success has been achieved in containing the effect of the monsoons once they set forth. Either its absence causes drought followed by a severe loss to farmers, as was witnessed in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh last year, or its excess leads to massive flash floods, cyclones and excessive flooding as has been seen over time in Uttarakhand, Odisha, Bihar, Assam, and West Bengal.

This year too excessive rains have caused havoc in Eastern India—maximum in Bihar where over 250 people have already lost their lives, more than 4lakh people have been displaced from their homes, and over 1.2 crore people have been affected in eighteen districts across the state. Shelters are now being run to accommodate and feed the fleeing individuals who have had to desert their homes their livestock and other valuables. In Bengal, too, over 50 people have died, and several have been displaced. The situation in Bihar is the worst, and its consequences have spilt onto Eastern Uttar Pradesh too. The condition in Araria district has been the most dismal with over 50 deaths being reported from here alone. An excessive rain along with floods in Nepal has compounded the situation at hand in Bihar. Flooding has become an annual problem for India, for which adequate preventive planning is still amiss. After disaster strikes, NDRF and SDRF are effective in reaching the necessary zones to provide long-term relief and shelter. Yet, there is a massive gap in policy-making that would check the first impact of heavy monsoons on residents of vulnerable areas. Experts have been suggesting that the rising rate of floods can be attributed to man-made causes as well. The pollution of rivers is causing silting and a subsequent rise in the level of river beds. This when further accentuated by rainwater in monsoons causes immediate overflowing of rivers, whose capacity to contain water has been diminished owing to a polluted river-bed. Further, the rapid construction of dams and hydroelectric projects has disturbed the normal flow of river water. This in monsoon aggravates the river flow, adding yet another reason for increased vulnerability to monsoons and flooding. To protect the citizens living in low-lying areas prone to the pitfalls of monsoon the authorities must undertake concentrated efforts to diminish the effect of what has become an annual disaster.

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