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Heatwave and Monsoons

Heatwave and Monsoons

While a large part of the country is reeling under extreme heatwave conditions, the monsoons have announced its arrival with heavy rains in Maharashtra on Thursday. Several parts of Mumbai were flooded in the pre-monsoon showers and the weather department has issued an 'extremely heavy' rainfall alert for the city from June 9 to 11. It further said that conditions are favourable for the setting in of the southwest monsoon over Maharashtra by Friday and over Mumbai this weekend. Though monsoon rains provide a relief from the incessant heat, the flood that it caused in Mumbai in 2005 and Chennai in 2015 claimed many lives besides bringing the two metropolitan cities to a grinding halt. The monsoon showers are the real test of how much work the municipal corporations and other civic bodies have done to keep the city drains clean so that the rainwater passes through them and does not create a flood-like situation in the city. With the onset of monsoon, farm activities are expected to pick up throughout the country. In many parts, it is summer though. The wait for monsoon is still not over and the extreme heat condition has thrown normal life out of gear. The maximum temperature hovers around 45 degree Celcius. As people helplessly go about their daily chores under the sweltering heat, the only respite in sight is the monsoon rains. But for it to reach Delhi and other parts of the country, it will take a month or more. Before the monsoon sets in and the country witnesses long spells of rains, the prevailing heat conditions have to be endured. For those who live in big cities, it is actually putting up with the hot summer and then the rainy deluge. But in the countryside, the monsoon not only brings respite from the heat but also kicks in a new farming season. At the end of the rains, when the farms are washed afresh many times by the rainwaters and the tiny rice saplings planted in muddy fields have grown into a mature crop, the most important farming season comes to a close. The farm output depends on the monsoon rains. If a region does not receive adequate or timely rainfall, the agriculture of the region would be adversely affected. Similarly, if the rainfall is too much, it will cause flooding and again hit the farming activities. The farmers have to work hard in the fields while it is raining to ensure that the rainwater does not get accumulated in the fields. From a beautiful spell of moderate to heavy rainfalls in the cities to a more powerful pouring of heavy rains amid gusty winds in the mountains, the monsoon rains have many faces. By the time the season is over, the entire land has been washed by the rainwaters and a new cover of green takes over the landscape throughout the length and breadth of the country. With the most important crop harvested, it is time for festivals. The monsoon season is also the time to harvest the rainwater and recharge the reservoirs for future supply of water to the cities.

The monsoon also brings floods in many parts of the country. With heavy rains, the overflooded rivers break the banks and flow into agricultural farms and residential areas. Every year, hundreds of people are killed and their property destroyed in the deadly floods caused by excessive monsoon rains in the catchment areas of major and minor rivers. This calls for an effective disaster management system in place to mitigate the destruction. In some areas, the flood water stays for nearly six months causing further difficulties and making farming impossible on the flooded land. The floods also damage road networks putting a strain on the transportation system. The floods hit the implementation of the governments' development plans. So, if the monsoon rains are welcomed by the farming community, the government may have to work at many levels from providing necessary farm inputs for a robust agriculture to ensuring rainwater harvesting. It has to take necessary measures to ensure that the floods do not cause much damage. It also needs to have a plan ready to provide relief to the affected people.

The unbearable heat condition prevalent in most part of the country, however, makes the waiting for the monsoon rains a tough experience. Vendors and those who run small businesses have to spend most of their time outside in the sun. There is little respite for them as they defy life-threatening risks from a daily exposure to heat.

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