Millennium Post

Monsoon fury

It is once again that time of the year when monsoon rains and the ensuing floods wreak havoc across coastal regions in India. Over 140 deaths have been reported and hundreds of thousands of people evacuated from their homes. Most of the deaths, nearly half of those are reported have happened in Kerala, the state to receive monsoon first and the one to bear the brunt of climate change with receding shoreline and rather frequent floods owing to various anthropogenic reasons. It is not just Kerala, but Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam, Odisha, and eastern parts of India are also not spared from monsoon's fury. The situations in Bihar and Gujarat have been alleviated given that rains have stopped. But the southern states remain grim – and not for the first time. Kerala, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, the progressive states and the flag-bearers of development, continue to be grapple for normalcy. Beginning with Assam, we have seen how a prolonged flood situation is disastrous for every aspect of a region: from having the basic amenities snapped and blocked out to wildlife succumbing to nature's wrath. About 17,563 hectares of cropland lies submerged in various districts of Assam, the number of cattle affected is reported to be 41,585 along with 16,400 small animals and 40,434 poultry. In Dibrugarh district, the floodwaters affected 1,618. All of this was when the mighty Brahmaputra was flowing 0.04 metres above its danger level of 75m before it began receding. In Bihar, after claiming 130 lives, the situation was mitigated after the water levels in four rivers receded and no fresh casualty was reported from any of the 13 calamity-hit districts. The state government facilitated relief and rehabilitation measures with assistance from National Disaster Response Force. With respect to Gujarat, most of south and central parts of the state remain affected Ambika and Purna are the rivers swelling due to continued rains and low-lying areas are put on alert in expectation of heavy to very heavy rains. Efforts are on to resume water and electric supply in the state. Karnataka has been massively hit with about 10 districts straight in the spate of flood and death toll is also on the rise. Surging waters have washed away crops on 80,590 hectares of land, affected 8,000 people in 96 villages, and close to 1,050 km of road network and 140 bridges and check dams have been damaged. The northern region has witnessed the closure of NH 48 (Pune-Bengaluru stretch) and also the suspension of train services in the Londa-Tinaighat section of Hubballi Division of South Western Railway.Owing to flood and heavy rainfall, holiday has been declared for educational institutions in some districts. Clearly, the miserable condition of a state due to natural calamity is not a problem exclusive to the disaster-stricken state; its impact spills out on numerous other aspects of lives in its vicinity and beyond. Just when Kerala was recuperating from last year's massive floods, the situation this year haunts of the damages and losses that the state is still overcoming. In a state of significant cash crops and plantation crops, heavy crop damage was suffered across various districts. The situation is far from under control in Kerala with several places marked for Orange Alert, meaning to be prepared for the anticipated conditions as there will be a significant impact on the people in the affected area. In Maharashtra, people have gone missing in the rain-related incidents. Public schools, colleges, and offices have had to be shut down, even the world-renowned train service of Maharashtra went off-track, air traffic was disrupted and power outages happened. Mumbai particularly bears the maximum brunt of torrential rains even with a 'normal' rainfall in a season. Goa is another state to be hit with floods this year. After waters started receding, there are reports of people helping each other as the state government and the local administration are not able to extend any assistance. Naturally, the immediate restoration of surroundings and compensation for damages is unlikely to bring any significant relief. A resident narrates that eight feet of water-logging was something he witnessed for the first time in his life. Other than the role of the authorities on the land, the fisherman community is specially going through a tough time in this fishing season as the rough seas and incessant rains have escalated the problem for them. They are prohibited from venturing out into the sea. There are numerous examples of how livelihood is massively affected in the wake of floods, which could have been contained had there been some visionary planning for holistic and balanced development. With destroyed farmlands and crops, suffering wildlife, educational institutions closed down, basic amenities suspended, the life of the common man is on the receiving end as it always is in a large scale event. The haphazard development that precipitates such a situation cannot be reversed but there must be some impetus for technological advancement in this direction so as to mitigate the effects of calamities on the common man.

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