- Even as the Southwest monsoon retreats along parts of northern Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha, Bengal and the northeastern States in October, it is leaving a trail of destruction in several districts.
- While the heaviest recent downpour has been reported from west Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, east Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
- Kerala and Gangetic West Bengal had very heavy rain in Kerala and Gangetic West Bengal, which had led to significant loss of life.
INDIAN MONSOON AND KERALA
- The Indian monsoon is an invaluable resource that sustains hundreds of millions of people, but variations in its patterns and intensity pose a rising challenge.
- Kerala, which hosts a vast stretch of the Western Ghats, is struggling with these changes with almost no respite between severe spells.
- The recurrent bursts show anomalies in precipitation over the State, spectacularly demonstrated by the 2018 flooding and by mudslides that killed many a year later.
- Further this year’s torrential rain in the State, which has killed at least 35 people so far, is causing alarm as large reservoirs in the mountains have started filling up fast, while the Northeast monsoon is yet to come.
- As per IMD’s forecast, more heavy rainfall in Kerala lies ahead this season.
- There exists ample evidence, which indicates that exploitative human activities have a major role in increasing the vulnerability to extreme weather events.
- Land may be an extremely scarce resource, but expanding extractive economic activity to montane forests is certain to cause incalculable losses. For e.g.
- The increased quarrying activity in central Kerala districts is believed to be contributing to increased instances of mudslides in the region.
- There is a similar threat from extreme weather, breaking glaciers and cloudbursts to Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
- Several States face climate change impacts and extreme weather, and the response must be to strengthen natural defences.
- The precarity of living conditions in much of the country make the annual monsoon a persistent threat for millions.
- Thus, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive adaptation plan to reduce the risk to life and property.
- Emphasis should be given on:
- Nurturing the health of rivers and keeping them free of encroachments,
- Protecting the integrity of mountain slopes by ending mining, deforestation and incompatible construction hold the key.
- Similar suggestions were made by the Madhav Gadgil committee report on the Western Ghats.
- Further there is the need to adopt a development policy that treats nature as an asset, and not an impediment.
- Accurately mapped hazard zones should inform all decisions in the vulnerable regions.
- There is an urgent need for governments to understand that it is unconscionable to allow the pursuit of short-term profits at the cost of helpless communities.