Flood and Climate Change – UPSC GS3

  • The flood governance in India is still about ad hoc relief measures. It’s time to change.
Key Points:
  • A month’s rain poured in just 24 hours in Germany and Belgium. This caused multiple rivers to burst their banks and flood parts of the two countries as well as the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. These areas of Europe have not witnessed such heavy rainfall for more than a century.
  • In 2018, Kerala witnessed 414 mm of rain in just three days.
  • Urban areas like Mumbai and Bengaluru were lashed with heavy rainfall.
  • The weather patterns where days of severe downpour sandwiched between spells of dry weather, raise questions about our understanding of the monsoon, as well as about the ways in which we prepare for and deal with floods.
Study and Warnings:
  • A 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned that Mumbai remains vulnerable to rainfall of the kind that led to the 2005 floods.
  • The indiscriminate destruction of wetlands has bargained the city’s capacity to deal with floods which holds true for Bengaluru, Guwahati, and several other cities of the country.
How Climate change can cause floods?
  • Experts say the more CO2 the world emits into the atmosphere, the warmer will be the air temperature. Warmer air holds more moisture and results in excess rainfall, which leads to flooding.
  • Additionally, increasing temperatures at the poles result in slower movement of storms in the mid-latitudes. As a result, storms linger longer at a specific place.
  • The combination of a slow-moving storm and the presence of surplus moisture in the atmosphere results in intense rainfall in one location within a short period of time.
  • In 2018, Kerala, for example, witnessed 414 mm of rain in just three days.
Governance efforts
  • Steps taken for the restoration of wetlands at the center of flood control programs remains minimal.
  • Flood governance in the country has not gone beyond ad hoc relief measures and building embankments.
  • Thus it’s the need of the hour that we require fresh thinking on how to prepare for the monsoons and deal with floods.
Lessons for India from Floods in Europe:
  • The floods in Europe serve as a wake-up call to us in India to adopt pragmatic policies and practices that are nature friendly.
  • Low-risk areas such as playgrounds, maidans, or agricultural fields should be earmarked to store excess rainwater.
  • Increasing the drainage capacity of the rivers and canals by creating more room for the water to flow.
  • Removing obstructions and encroachments from existing water channels, the proper maintenance of such channels, and creating additional channels for water to flow.
  • In the short term, strengthened disaster readiness, planning, and preparation will help us deal with sudden, intense rain and consequent floods.

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