Devastating floods causing havoc across northern India have impacted all spheres of life. As extreme weather events continue to grow, here’s a look into the causes and impact of the 2023 floods in India.
The relentless rainfall in the Northern part of India has led to extreme and severe flood alerts, as rivers have swept into towns, washing away vehicles, bridges and roads. Over the last two weeks, more than a hundred people have lost their lives, while in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, several roads remain inaccessible and electricity as well as power infrastructure lay damaged. In the past few years, the prevalence and intensity of these extreme weather events and their impact in India has multiplied.
The Unpredictable Indian Monsoons
Nearly 70% of the rain that India needs to irrigate agricultural land and refuel reservoirs is brought in by the monsoon. As per experts, India’s monsoon season, running from June to September, has become more unpredictable due to climate change and pollution.
Floods caused by the erratic monsoon have caused more than 1,500 deaths every year in the last decade, apart from the resultant economic loss. As per a report by World Meteorological Organisation, India suffered damages worth Rs. 62,000 crore due to extreme cyclone and flood events in 2021 alone.
Capital Facing the Climate Crisis
India’s national capital New Delhi witnessed the highest rainfall in a single day in the month of July since 1982. The level of Yamuna river reached unprecedented danger levels and the low-lying areas still remain inundated. The city’s Red Fort, built in the 17th century, had once been touched by the river, but it had since receded. In a full circle, the river again reached the fort, filling up the nearby main road.
Climate change accompanied by land encroachment over the floodplains and unplanned development led have been attributed to the threatening situation in Delhi.
Preparing for More Extreme Weather Events Globally
India’s vast geographical area, topography and diverse climatic conditions make the nation one of the most natural disaster-prone in the world and floods alone account for 60% of the total annual natural disaster.
Not just India, but other parts of the globe are also witnessing heavy floods and facing the havoc caused by them. Although disastrous flooding in Turkey, the United States, Japan, China, and India may seem like far-off occurrences, atmospheric scientists claim they share one thing in common: Storms are forming in a warmer environment, making excessive rainfall more prevalent now. It will only get worse as a result of the increased warmth that scientists believe will occur. It is essential that we adapt to flood-management techniques and focus on controlling further climate change to avoid more severe extreme weather events.
Ratika Khanna/ New Delhi
Contributing reports by Dharma Teja and Sakshi Rai, Researchers at Polstrat.
Infographics by the Graphic Design Team at Polstrat.
From Polstrat, a non-partisan political consultancy which aims to shift the narrative of political discourse in the country from a problem-centric to a solutions-oriented approach.