Flooding in India Escalates: Threat of Poverty and Loss for Thousands


NEW DELHI — The recent deluge of flooding in India is imperiling the lives of over 24 million individuals in the country. The monsoon rains in 2017 have been especially torrential. The Northern Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam have been especially impacted. The death toll across India, Nepal and Bangladesh currently stands at 800, and 253 in the State of Bihar alone.

The recent flooding in India is also known to have catalyzed mudslides in many areas. This has wreaked even more havoc and destruction in flood-prone areas. An estimated over 500,000 homes have been ravaged by flooding in India.

Flooding in India is often a very widespread problem during the monsoon season in India. It has especially grave effects on people from poorer districts and rural communities in the country.

In the past few years, a slew of sudden landslides, cyclones, flash floods and other climatic fluctuations due to climate change and altering weather patterns deeply impacted India.

Food insecurity and the threat of water-borne diseases such as cholera and malaria are becoming rampant. As a result, aid agencies are under a lot of pressure to provide humanitarian aid to the affected areas.

The impacts of flooding in India on aspects like agriculture, land and other forms of farming needs to be determined and continually assessed in the near future.

UNICEF plays a vital role in accounting for the number of children lost or missing. Also, the Red Cross recently declared India’s capability in addressing the situation without much foreign intervention and international help due to their resources and level of preparedness.

Governmental Response

The response to flooding in India has been swift and efficient. The ruling BJP (Bharathiya Jantha Party) government dispatched army forces and members from the Disaster Response Force (DRF) to assist with disaster management and relief initiatives in the affected areas. So far, army forces helped evacuate more than 770,000 individuals from remote areas.

Although quite hastily, state authorities in India set up more than 1,358 shelters for people who seek shelter, warmth and other basic necessities. The government also provides and distributes food packages to flood victims.

For the long term, it is essential to bolster the quality of infrastructure and housing in flood-prone areas in India. This will make providing assistance to citizens more accessible for aid agencies and government authorities during times of critical natural disasters.

According to a 2016 report by Times of India, drainage systems are currently being deepened and widened to potentially reduce the impacts of flooding in future.

Programs that Aid in Disaster Relief and Prevention

In the Nothern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, The Underwater Taming of Floods for Irrigation (UTFI), a new technology, diverts high water flows from canals and rivers threatened by the impacts of flooding. These advancements can be utilized at community and village levels so that individuals are well protected.

Moreover, it is also necessary to focus on developing and improving flood warning centers so that people are kept aware of potential dangers and can make preparations accordingly. Fortunately, Divisional Flood Control Rooms (DFCRs) have been established by the Central Flood Control Room (CFCR) in India.

The CFCR monitors flood control at a national level and sets a standardized and targeted procedure that helps all states regulate flooding efficaciously.

Over the years, the work of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has also been a crucial regulatory body for flooding in India. Reports and predictions are made on a fortnightly, weekly, daily, and at times, even hourly basis so that people take the necessary precautions.

Overall, the state and central governments must work in collaboration to effectively coordinate relief efforts. Even though mitigating the effects of flooding in India remains a rather difficult feat to achieve given the sheer population of the country, current initiatives and efforts shall provide a useful framework to yield numerous benefits in the future.

Shivani Ekkanath
Photo: Flickr


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