Devastating flood in Kerala 2018

IIITD Student B.Tech Project. BTP Supervisor: Prof. Manohar Khushalani
BTP Students: Sejal Kumar / Aysha Fazilath / Rahul Patwardhan / Vyshakh Dharan

Prof. Manohar Khushalani was one of the panelists who appeared Live on Lok Sabha TV in the program Insight on Monday the 20th of August,2018. The program is on the devastating Kerala Floods which set the state reeling. True to its name, the program gives you an insight into what caused the floods and what can be done to prevent such a mishap from happening again. Also, Kamal Kishore, Director from NDMA explains how they conducted rescues of people stranded by the deluge and a Senior Journalist from Kerala gives the ground report. A must watch program, if you care about the globe, and are worried about what condition we will leave it in, for the next generation.

A 2.5 fold rainfall was witnessed in Kerala as compared to the normal rainfall in 2018 leading to the Kerala Deluge, a situation that wasn’t witnessed in around the past 100 years. Co-panelist Kamal Kishore, a member of NDMA mentions that the NDRF deployment and the system created in the last decade were proved effective and the response according to the scale of the situation was very good.

However, more than 400 people died and more than 7 lakh people were affected by the disaster. Due to lack of warning system, and the way in which people live i.e. alongside the river resulted in this number of loss of lives.

Khushalani adds that the opening of dams is important after the water has reached a maximum level for preventing bigger disasters. So the decision is taken regarding the opening of dams which caused the floods had to be taken. The Idukki dam was opened after 21 years and hence it was tough to predict that such a huge amount of water will flow through it.

Kerala is yet to implement recommendations of the Gadgil Committee on conservation of the Western Ghats, which was submitted in August 2011. The Gadgil Committee was set up by the Centre in 2010 over concerns that human intervention was changing the face of the Western Ghats, the mountain range responsible for breaking down cloud formations and dissipating rainfall. The broader contours of the Western Ghats span across Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Goa, and Gujarat. Many political parties had protested against the report on the grounds that it was excessively environment-friendly, and not in tune with the ground

Injudicious use of land is responsible for making some regions more prone to floods and landslides. Incursions into catchment areas of rivers that have dried up and mountainous areas are also one of the reasons. Most affected cities were built or have been expanded on leveled farmlands, blocking the normal waterways. Resorts are built on hilltops and skyscrapers are built on the banks of rivers and lakes. Take the current flooding in Kalady, the buildings which are inundated with floodwaters were built on farmlands.

Dam safety plans are necessary to tackle such situations. India is not behind any country when it comes to the technology of construction and management of dams. Dams can be increased to handle such disasters in a better way. However, disasters like these that occur once in a hundred years are usually very hard to deal with. In such a scenario the best measure is to control the problem locally and train people to handle the situation the best way possible.

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