Compartmentalized responses are unlikely to be adequate to address the current crises. There is a need for an integrated approach, which addresses source sustainability, land use management, agricultural strategies, demand management and the distribution and pricing of water. With growing pressures due to climate change, migration and population growth, creative and imaginative governance is needed to manage this precious resource.
The death toll from a fresh spell of monsoon-driven floods in India has jumped to 190 and affected more than a million residents. Heavy rain and landslides have also forced hundreds of thousands of people in southern and western India to take shelter in relief camps, while train services were canceled in several flood-hit areas. This is every year, hundreds of citizens shed their lives, many migrate and some suffer their entire life, the loss of a beloved once is irrecoverable injury. India’s monsoon season lasts from June to September. It sees heavy rains, which refill the country’s water reservoirs and are vital for agriculture, but cause immense destruction and loss of life. Dozens died in floods in India every year, particularly in the eastern states of Bihar and Assam, last month, with the inundation causing heavy losses to farms, homes and infrastructure. All because of rising deforestation, poor urban planning and increased urbanization as the reasons behind the rise in the intensity of the floods.
India suffers in two extreme conditions, one is heavy and another is drought, at least 330m people are likely to be affected by acute shortages of water. As the subcontinent awaits the imminent arrival of the monsoon rains, bringing relief to those who have suffered the long, dry and exceptionally warm summer, the crisis affecting India’s water resources is high on the public agenda.
Unprecedented drought demands unconventional responses, and there have been some fairly unusual attempts to address this year’s shortage. Perhaps most dramatic was the deployment of railway wagons to transport 500,000 litres of water per day across the Deccan plateau, with the train traversing more than 300km to provide relief to the district of Latur in Maharashtra state. The need to shift water on this scale sheds light on the key issue that makes water planning in the Indian subcontinent so challenging. While the region gets considerable precipitation most years from the annual monsoon, the rain tends to fall in particular places – and for only a short period of time (about three months). This water needs to be stored, and made to last for the entire year.
In most years, it also means that there is often too much water in some places, resulting in as much distress due to flooding as there currently is due to drought. So there is a spatial challenge as well – water from the surplus regions needs to reach those with a shortfall, and the water train deployed in Maharashtra is one attempt to achieve this.
Kolhapur is a city on the banks of the Panchganga River; Water has started receding in Maharashtra’s flood-hit Kolhapur district and the Mumbai- Bengaluru national highway, which has been closed due to waterlogging for the last six days. Continuous discharge of water from Almatti dam in Karnataka brought down the water level of the Panchganga river in Kolhapur where it was flowing above the danger mark. Kolhapur and Sangli districts have been battling unprecedented floods since the last eight days following heavy rains in Konkan and western parts of the state where 40 people have lost their lives in the deluge. The Mumbai-Bengaluru National Highway No. 4 has been shut for last six days due to flooding and is likely to open for vehicular movement on August 12.
Water has started receding in Maharashtra’s flood-hit Kolhapur district and the Mumbai- Bengaluru national highway, which has been closed due to waterlogging for last six days, is likely to open on August 12. Nearly 4.48 lakh people were so far evacuated from flood-hit areas across the state, including 4.04 lakh from Kolhapur and Sangli. They were shifted to 372 temporary camps and shelters, a senior state official said on August 11.Rescuers, including the NDRF and military personnel, received kudos from locals for the relief work.
Some women and girls tied ‘rakhis’ on the wrists of jawans of the Navy, Army and NDRF on August 11. Several members of the Muslim community from Sangli and Kolhapur have decided to celebrate the festival of Eid al-Adha on August 12 without fanfare. Around 35 people have been killed in rain-related incidents in five districts of western Maharashtra in a week, including 17 who drowned after a boat capsized near Brahmanal village in Sangli on Thursday. Four lakh people have so far been moved to safety from the flood-affected areas of Maharashtra, officials said on Sunday, adding 761 villages in 69 tehsils are affected by the deluge.
Meanwhile Death toll in Kerala floods mounted to 72 even as rains abated on Sunday after pounding the state for days, while the situation remained grim in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat where 97 people have lost their lives so far due to the monsoon fury. All rivers are in spate in Karnataka where the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) world heritage site in Hampi, on the banks of the Tungabhadra river in Ballari district, has been inundated after over 1.70 lakh cusec water was released from a reservoir on Sunday morning. Tourists in Hampi have been shifted to safer places, officials said. The unprecedented deluge since last week has left 31 people dead and displaced four lakh people in 80 taluks of 17 districts in Karnataka. Continuous discharge of water from Almatti dam in Karnataka brought down the water level of the Panchganga River in Kolhapur where it was flowing above the danger mark. Kolhapur and Sangli districts have been battling unprecedented floods since the last eight days following heavy rains in Konkan and western parts of the state where 40 people have lost their lives in the deluge.
Meanwhile, In the state of Kerala alone, at least 76 people were killed in rain-related incidents. “Several houses are still covered under 10-12 feet (3-3.6 meters) of deep mud. This is hampering rescue work. The flood situation remains grim and agencies are on high alert in six districts. Many deaths have been reported in rain-triggered landslides in Wayanad and Malappuram districts. Over five-lakh cusecs of water was being discharged from Almatti dam on the Krishna River in neighbouring Karnataka to ease the flood situation in western Maharashtra. In Kerala, over 2.51 lakh people have taken shelter in 1,639 relief camps. The toll in the flood fury has gone up 72 while 58 people are still missing. The Railways announced waiver of freight charges for transportation of relief materials to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala, where over 10 lakh people had to be shifted from their homes to escape inundation.
The Ballari district administration in Karnataka has asked people living along the riverbanks to move to safer places as all 33 gates of the Tungabhadra Dam were opened in the wake of incessant rains. Preliminary estimate of flood-related loss in the state was Rs 10,000 crore . Heavy showers continued to lash parts of Gujarat taking the toll in rain-related incidents to 31, including 12 deaths were reported from Saurashtra region. Several parts of central Gujarat and Saurashtra and Kutch regions have been receiving heavy rains for the last three days.
Orissa has another tragedy; this state is always under casualty. The 482 km long coastline of Orissa exposes the State to flood, cyclones and storm surges. Heavy rainfall during monsoon causes floods in the rivers. Flow of water from neighboring States of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh also contributes to flooding. The flat coastal belts with poor drainage, high degree of siltation of the rivers, soil erosion, breaching of the embankments and spilling of floodwaters over them, cause severe floods in the river basin and delta areas. In Orissa, rivers such as the mahanadi, Subarnarekha, Brahmani, Baitarani, Rushikulya, Vansadhara and their many tributaries and branches flowing through the State expose vast areas to floods. In Orissa, damages are caused due to floods mainly in the Mahanadi, the Brahmani, and the Baitarani. These rivers have common deltas where floodwaters intermingle, and when in spate simultaneously, wreak considerable havoc. This problem becomes even more acute when floods coincide with high tide. The water level rises due to deposits of silt on the river-bed. Rivers often overflow their banks or water rushes through new channels causing heavy damages. Floods and drainage congestion also affect the lower reaches along the Subarnarekha. The rivers Rusikulya, Vansadhara and Budhabalanga also cause occasional floods. The entire coastal belt is prone to storm surges. The storms that produce tidal surges are usually accompanied by heavy rainfall making the coastal belt vulnerable to both floods and storm surges. People die; livestock perish; houses are washed away; paddy and other crops are lost and roads and bridges are damaged. property worth crores of rupees was destroyed in the floods. People are trying to cope up with challenges, what is needed the most is human support. We all should approach fellow human and make them sustain.