2. Geography of the Region.
3. Causes of Floods
4. How to avoid such disasters in near future?
5. Strategy and Challenges for Rehabilitation
The ongoing south-west monsoon has wreaked havoc in Kerala. Heavy flooding has caused the deaths of at least 360 people in Kerala since June, the worst natural disaster to strike the southern Indian state in decades. More than 1 million people have been displaced and are recovering in relief camps after 80 dams were overrun by torrential rains. In this lecture, we will study the mains causes of such floods along with current challenges in rehabilitation.
Kerala is situated between the Arabian Sea to the west and the Western Ghats to the east. The topography consists of a hot and wet coastal plain gradually rising in elevation to the high hills and mountains of the Western Ghats. Kerala’s climate is mainly wet and maritime tropical, heavily influenced by the seasonal heavy rains brought up by the monsoon. There are 44 rivers in Kerala, all but three originating in the Western Ghats. 41 of them flow westward and 3 eastward. The rivers of Kerala are small, in terms of length, breadth and water discharge. The rivers flow faster, owing to the hilly terrain and as the short distance between the Western Ghats and the sea. All the rivers are entirely monsoon-fed and many of them shrink into rivulets or dry up completely during summer
Causes of the Crisis
Kerala received heavy monsoon rainfall on the mid-evening of August 8 resulting in dams filling to capacity; in the first 24 hours of rainfall, the state received 310 mm (12 in) of rain. In fact, the state received 42% more rains in the southwest monsoon than it normally receives and all of it in a short time-span – causing widespread devastation and loss of lives.
Almost all dams have been opened since the water level has risen close to overflow level due to heavy rainfall, flooding local low-lying areas
The situation took a turn for the worse around August 15, when shutters of the state’s 34 (out of 42) dams had to be opened following incessant rains in catchment areas. While flooding was initially restricted to the banks of the Periyar river – following the opening of the spillways of the Idukki Dam – it soon engulfed the whole of central Kerala as the rain kept pounding. The opening of two shutters of the Cheruthoni Dam initially meant to be a trial run, could not be paused even for a moment following incessant rain. Soon, all five shutters of the dam had to be opened one after the other. But as this discharge through shutters couldn’t match the inflow, the water level kept rising till it almost touched the danger mark. This water discharge from the reservoirs soon led to flooding of other areas.
The Kerala High Court Appointed Jacob P Alex as the amicus curiae to assist the court in flood-related cases . Mr Alex has informed the court on 2nd April 2019 that the Sudden release of water simultaneously from different reservoirs during the heavy rain in August 2018 had aggravated the damage during the floods.
He also said that dams in the State did not have an effective flood control zone and flood cushions.
Various alerts (blue/orange/red) were issued not in accordance with the EAP (Emergency Action Plan) guidelines. No proper follow-up action and effective precautionary steps, especially for evacuating people and accommodating them in safe locations, were taken after the issue of red alert.
So we can blame Heavy precipitation, Poor Dam management and Weak early Warning and Response system for the damges caused by the worst flood of the Century in Kerala
Question for IAS Mains GS Paper-III:-
Extreme Rainfall Caused Kerala Floods but Man Made Things made it worse. The deluge in Kerala has been a combined result of a set of interacting atmospheric, oceanic and human factors. HOW?
Reports of following committees explain it better
Madhav Gadgil committee on Western Ghats conservation
It is impossible to anticipate natural disasters such as Cyclones , Flash floods. However, disaster preparedness plans and protocols in the civil administration and public health systems could be very helpful in rescue and relief and in reducing casualties and adverse impact on the human life and socio economic conditions.
1. Shelter and relief :- Proper shelter have to be provided to the people who are evacuated from Flood affected regions.
2. Supply of essential items :- Medicines blankets, tents, gumboots, and clothes
If There is a shortage of medical staff including doctors. So the government should use Telemedicine services in order to make medical service accessible
3. Restoration of infrastructure Roads, Electricity, Communication :- Basic Infrastrucre in the state should be restrored as soon as possible because rescue and rehabilitation process cant be executed without Roads, Electricity and Communication access.
4. Water, sanitation, and hygiene :- Administration must insure the supply of Clean Drinking water and hygine conditions in the region and Evacuation camps because there are high chances of spread of contagious waterborne disease . Such outbreak will create more problems for already strained Health and rescure infrastructure of the state
There is a high risk of water-borne diseases following the disaster. Many human bodies may wash away and contaminate water bodies. There will be increased fly and mosquito menace.
There will an urgent need to prevent disease transmission due to contaminated drinking water sources, flies and Mosquitoes.
The population would have a higher risk of mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, deprivation, and depression. Therefore, relief and rehabilitation would include increased awareness of the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and its alleviation through education on developing coping mechanisms.
5. Food and nutrition
6. Avoid social unrest among public
Building confidence of the public to avoid the panic situation is also critical. Community involvement and awareness generation, particularly that of the vulnerable segments of population and women, needs to be emphasized as necessary for sustainable disaster risk reduction.
The Government should also provide some monetary compensation for the people who have lost their house.
Some Employment generation policies also need to be implemented in order to provide jobs to the landless laborers who lost their Job due to the impact of the floods.
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For Further infromation kindly visit the website of Kerala State Disaster Management Authority