NEW DELHI: Floods and landslides have caused widespread devastation across the country with more than 900 deaths reported so far by 16 states this monsoon season.
On Friday, Kerala added over 23 to its tally of 33 lives lost reported till August 6. West Bengal, Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka, MP and Maharashtra are the worst affected states.
About 69 lakh people in Bihar and 57 lakh in Assam have been affected by floods, displaced or marooned. Millions across India have lost their habitat, livestock and livelihood, taking shelter in thousands of relief camps run by state authorities. The Centre has deployed 141 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for rescue operations, besides the state disaster response forces (SDRF).
In the last 10 days state governments have reported more than 200 deaths due to floods and landslides, taking the overall tally close to 900. West Bengal has the highest deaths at 239, followed by 136 in Assam, 87 in Gujarat and 74 each in Karnataka and MP. The total flood-related casualties is likely to go up as many states are not filing their ‘situation reports’ regularly with the Centre and rivers are flowing above the danger level in almost all states.
In Assam, out of 136 flood-related deaths reported by the state government, at least 26 have been caused by landslides. Kerala’s Idukki, in a single day on Friday, saw over 23 perish and scores missing in landslides caused by floods.
The deluge has made it difficult for states to maintain social distancing and follow other guidelines, as prescribed by the Centre in view of the outbreak of coronavirus, at relief camps or during its evacuation operations.
Disasters related to climate change such as floods have become a recurring phenomenon in India with over a thousand deaths reported every year and millions of people pushed into poverty due to loss of habitat and livelihood.
Of all the disasters recorded globally between 1998-2017, floods accounted for 44%. Climate change is causing more havoc than earthquakes and tsunamis. That makes India’s development highly risky.