As per the official data, there have been 26 floods that have occurred since 2017 across India.
While eight of them were reported in 2017, five occurred in 2018, four in 2019 and 7 last year. Jammu and Kashmir saw the worst flooding in 2014 which had a devastating impact. Nonetheless no major flood has occurred since then even as flash floods wreaked havoc at some places amid cloud bursting. It is also not the case that while major floods have not occurred since 2014, repeats would not happen. In fact the number of people exposed to floods worldwide has increased by almost a quarter over the last two decades, as per an analysis of satellite-based data by Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the report of which was published earlier this month. Among its main findings is that almost 86 million people moved to flood-prone regions between 2000 and 2015. The reason was attributed to economic necessity. Also the finding revealed that most flood events were caused by excess rainfall, followed by storm surges, snow or ice melt, and dam breaks.
The climate change scenarios were analysed using high-resolution regional climate model. Simulations for 2020s, 2050s and 2080s indicate an all-round warming for Indian subcontinent. Impact of climate change and climate variability on the water resources are likely to affect irrigated agriculture, installed power capacity, environmental flows in the dry season and wet season.
There are various causes of floods. They happen due to both greater than normal rainfall, and the limited capacity of rivers, drainage and water harvesting structures to withstand and discharge excess rain. While climate crisis is causing substantial disruptions in monsoon patterns, scientists having been warning that floods will only become more frequent and powerful. To minimise loss, it is only proper planning that can insure against the inevitable extremities of nature including floods.
To reduce the impact of flooding, it is also critical to go back to basic practices such as planting more trees, stop destroying and encroaching on the floodplains of rivers besides increasing drainage capacities.
It is also imperative for the government as well as the people to take warnings of scientific risk assessment seriously.
The government needs to recall, time and again, the scientific consensus that future rain spells may be short, often unpredictable and very heavy, influenced by a changing climate. There is a need to invest in reliable infrastructure to mitigate the impact of flooding and avert disasters like one in 2014 when almost half of Srinagar and many villages in south Kashmir were devastated.