The rain mayhem has left a trail of devastation across states in India. Maharashtra has borne the brunt but so have Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. Not to forget the fury Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have witnessed. We are just in the middle of the monsoon. There are a few good months left for the storm season to come up and the recurrence of such extreme events can never be predicted.
The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) acknowledges that the country has been witness to an increased number of natural disasters. India had reported just one severe cyclone in 2016; it witnessed six each in 2018 and 2019. Last year, five severe storms left their deadly imprint. The heavy rainfall events during the monsoon season alone are alarmingly rising. From 226 extremely heavy rainfall events (in 2016) to 554 (2019) and 341 (2020), the incidence of extreme localised rainfall has greatly multiplied flood risk in the country.
But India is not alone in this crisis of climate change. Germany woke up to the horrors of floods two weeks ago. At least 15 cm rain in 24 hours and Germany was left to count its losses, estimated at a staggering 5 billion euros. Zhengzhou, the capital of China’s Henan province, reported over 21 cm rain in a day. Much of this dropped in the first few hours, leaving the city trapped in water. These extreme rainfall events forebode a dark future fraught with incalculable damage to life and property, and India must be ready for this.
Its exposure to natural calamities and ability to absorb the shock in economic terms would be humongous. What it requires is a robust disaster management plan, not a piecemeal approach by states. The MoES already has a first-of-its kind comprehensive report on assessment of climate change that must be activated. States like Odisha have shown the path to dealing with such vagaries of nature. However, much more and on a national scale needs to be done because climate change is hitting India where it hurts most—the poorest of the poor.