[op-ed snap] Keeping dry: On Kerala floods

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Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Flood events in various parts of country and measures that need to be taken to effectively handle them


Context

Impact of flooding in Kerela

  1. More than three dozen people have died and an estimated ₹8,316 crore worth of economic assets have been lost in the seasonal rain in Kerela, particularly over the past week
  2. The gates of reservoirs in the Idukki system, a giant hydroelectric project, and several other dams have been opened, inundating riverside habitations downstream
  3. In the northern districts, damage to houses, roads and other structures has occurred owing to landslips caused by incessant showers

Trend of rainfall in Kerala

  1. Kerala’s unusually heavy monsoon this year is in contrast to the long-period trend of rainfall
  2. According to an analysis of data on the monsoon between 1954 and 2003 by climate researchers at the University of Cambridge, overall this part of the country had become drier in summer, but with an emerging frequency of destructive flash floods in rare events
  3. This trend is expected to become stronger

Steps that need to be taken

  1. There is the need for governments to strengthen their resilience planning
  2. It should begin with a programme to relocate people away from hazard zones along the rivers that were in spate in Kerala over the past week after the shutters of more than two dozen dams were opened
  3. The spectacular disaster this year also underscores the role of the government as the insurer of last resort for the average citizen
  4. This is because in Mumbai last year, those who had private household insurance cover against disasters discovered the limitations of such policies
  5. The companies were unwilling to pay many homeowners for a key risk such as costly displacement from homes since the houses were not structurally damaged

Way Forward

  1. The catastrophic impact of monsoon rainfall on several districts of Kerala has come as a grim reminder that the vigil against unpredictable natural disasters must never be relaxed
  2. All States naturally look to Kerala, with its record of social development, for evolving best practices to handle such natural disasters
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.
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