The months from June to September in India are both a blessing and a boon. While the advent of the monsoon season allows us relief from the scorching sun and makes everything greener, it also brings with it all kinds of problems including heavy traffic, disruption of everyday life, and when it exceeds the danger level, floods--a natural calamity that has caused havoc in major parts of the country this year.
The most affected states in India are Assam and Bihar in the North-East, Kerala and Karnataka in the South and Maharashtra and Gujarat in the West. Western and Southern India have been put on SOS Alerts by Google to make emergency information more accessible during these difficult times. Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir have also reported heavy rainfall that has resulted in landslides.
After Cyclone Fani caused massive destruction in Odisha this May (resulting in damage worth of $1.81 billion), the state is preparing for a possible flood situation as the death toll is on a rise. In West Bengal, four people were killed in a lightning strike in South 24 Parganas district, leading to five casualties in the East due to rain-related incidents. Meghalaya and Mizoram are also impacted by the rains and relief camps have been set up to offer assistance to those displaced.
However, the national coverage of these floods is bare minimum right now. There are so many states in trouble this year, but once again, the North-East seems to be missing from the headlines. The need of the hour calls for immediate attention and action to help those in need. Here’s what’s happening in the flood-affected states in India.
The situation in the states of Assam and Bihar remains grim after a month of floods hitting the states. More than 1.17 crore people have been affected by the calamity in the two states, officials reported.
In Assam, homes and roads are flooded, lakhs of people have been displaced, and animals in the Kaziranga National Park (which is 90% underwater now) are dying every day. The last five White Rhinos (a species that is already near-threatened) in India have perished from our land. Crops have been destroyed on a widespread scale. Overflow of River Brahmaputra is the primary cause of deluge. While the flood situation in upper Assam has slightly improved with water level receding in some areas, it remains critical in the lower districts. Rains continue to disrupt everyday life in the state.
In Bihar, 13 districts are majorly hit by rains, including Champaran, Sitamarhi, Madhubani and Muzaffarpur among others affecting more than 82 lakh people in all. Six rivers originating in Nepal were flowing above the danger mark in Bihar ever since the neighbouring country witnessed torrential rainfall. Of these, the water levels in four rivers have receded and people have started returning to their homes. It is reported that the officials are now working to control outbreaks of water-borne diseases. However, according to the Water Resources Department, three rivers - Bagmati, Burhi Gandak and Khiroi - are still flowing above danger level in parts of Bihar.
Reported Casualties: Over 220 fatalities, with 90+ deaths in Assam and 130 in Bihar
Helpline Numbers: Assam: 0361-2237219 | Bihar: 0612-2293204/05/10
Last year, Kerala floods caused severe destruction in the state, claiming over 400 lives and leaving lakhs homeless. This year, too, heavy rainfall has resulted in flooding 14 districts in the state with Wayanad, Kozhikode, Idukki, Nilambur and Malappuram being the worst-hit. Not just floods, major landslides in Kavalappara and Puthumala (in Malappuram and Wayanad districts) have significantly contributed to Kerala’s rising death toll with over 50 people reportedly trapped under debris. More than 2.8 lakh people have been shifted in relief camps already.
Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi recently visited his flood-ravaged constituency. After speaking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to support the rehabilitation efforts in Kerala and help with compensation to the affected families, Rahul met the district collector in Wayanad to review the situation first-hand.
I left Wayanad with nothing but pride for the people I represent.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 13, 2019
The display of bravery and dignity in the face of immense tragedy is truly humbling.
It is such an honour and pleasure to be your MP.
Thank you Kerala. pic.twitter.com/PVwmUAFboZ
Although no ‘red alert’ has been issued to the 14 flood-hit districts this week, six out of these have been issued the ‘orange alert’ (be prepared)--a warning of extremely bad weather with the potential of disruption in commute with air travel, road and rail closures, interruption of power supply, and threat to life as well as property.
Reported Casualties: Death toll rose to 88 with 58 people reported missing since the major landslides of Malappuram on August 8
Helpline Numbers: 0471-2331639, 0471-2333198, 0471-2517500, 0471-2322056
This year, Karnataka is on the growing list of states to witness havoc-wreaking floods in the country. Last week, in a single day, the total rainfall in the state was five times more than the normal. According to reports, Mysuru received 32 times more rainfall, which is equivalent to more than 3,000% of the long-term average of the day. Because of the rise in rainfall, at least 11 dams or barrages are at or approaching maximum levels furthering the flood-situation in the state.
On August 11, India’s Central Water Commission (CWC) said that River Tungabhadra, Karnataka’s third-largest river, is at ‘Severe to Extreme Flood Situation’. Water releasing from dams along the Krishna river basin have also led to flooding in several districts of the state.
Nearly 2,740 villages have been affected and around 40,523 houses have been damaged due to heavy rainfall. Over 6,00,000 people have been displaced by the recent flooding. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert as heavy downpour is expected to hit coastal, central and southern regions of the state in the next 4-5 days. Parts of Bengaluru are also facing a flood-like situation.
Reported Casualties: According to official information shared on Monday, 48 people have been reported dead while 12 are missing
Helpline Numbers: 080-22340676, 080-25573333
Mumbai is in the news (like every year) due to the heavy downpour that’s impacting everyday life. The commute is becoming a pain for office-goers while the city struggles with traffic jams. But this year, other parts of Maharashtra have been badly hit, too, including the districts of Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Pune, Nashik and Ratnagiri among others. As on Sunday, nearly 4.48 lakh people were evacuated from flood-hit areas. Rivers including Samdoli and Krishna are at record level highs.
However, recent news came with a sigh of relief informing that the floodwater has started receding in some parts of Maharashtra except in the flood-ravaged Sangli and Satara districts. But contrary to the Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan’s confidence that ‘things would get back to normal soon’, the reality looks far from it.
Reported Casualties: Death toll crossed 30 due to rainfall and flood-related incidents in the state including 17 who drowned after a rescue boat capsized in Sangli district on August 8
Helpline Number: 022-22023039
The gravity of the situation in Gujarat came into the limelight when multiple videos of crocodiles swimming in rainwater were uploaded on social media. This happened at the start of August when 500mm of rain fell in only 24 hours covering the whole city of Vadodara with floodwater. People were waist-high in water. As the water level started receding, a total of 22 crocodiles were rescued from the residential areas of Vadodara within a week after the flood. Not just human life, wildlife is also facing great danger.
The cause of the flash floods in Gujarat, other than heavy rainfall, of course, is water coming from the overflowing Ajwa Dam and nearly-on-danger-level River Vishwamitri. Botad and Kutch districts are the most affected areas after Vadodara in the state. Nearly 125 people stranded on a road in Kutch after getting washed away by floods were recently rescued by the Indian Air Force (IAF). NDRF has also been actively rescuing people in inflatable boats. They have evacuated over 6,000 people in the state so far.
Reported Casualties: According to reports, 31 people have died in the last five days
Helpline Numbers: Gujarat: 079-23276944 | Vadodara: 1800-233-0265, 0265-2423101, 0265-2426101
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF): 9711077372, 011-24363260
Centralised Helpline (India): 1078, 011-26701700
Control Room of District Collector/Magistrate: 1077
Disaster Management: 108
Natural Disaster Control Room: 1096
Women Helpline: 1091
Central Relief Commissioner for Natural Calamities, Relief Commissioners of Central/State/Union Territory: 1070
Emergency Relief Centre on National Highways: 1033
Weather Enquiry: 1717
In tough times like these, the affected could use more than just our prayers, and there are many reports of people stepping up to help those in need.
On the occasion of Eid-Al-Adha on Monday, around 300 Muslim families in Pune donated money and relief supplies, such as food and clothes, to Maharashtra’s Sangli and Kohlapur districts. A student’s group called Sarhad Jammu and Kashmir Students Association also came forward to help in a wonderful way. They announced that the group plans to adopt 100 students from Sangli and Kolhapur districts, and financially support them for a year.
Bollywood celebrities have been donating to various relief funds. Akshay Kumar donated Rs 2 crores to the CM relief fund in Assam and Kaziranga National Park. Amitabh Bachchan donated Rs 51 lakhs to Assam flood victims, too. Riteish Deshmukh and wife Genelia D'Souza donated Rs 25 lakh to the CM relief fund in Maharashtra. Others like John Abraham, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Shraddha Kapoor, Dia Mirza as well as sports personalities such as Virat Kohli, Virendra Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Hima Das have been strongly urging citizens to donate by spreading the word.
If you want to help those affected by the floods, you can donate to various Chief Minister’s Relief Funds through the PayTM app. The virtual platform has listed the relief funds for Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Meghalaya have along with some NGOs who are accepting contributions.
Organisations such as Rapid Response, Milaap, Plan International, Ketto, Action Aid India are accepting monetary donations as well as donations in the form of food packets, health supplies, education kits and other relief kits. Most of these accept online donations by debit/credit cards, NEFT transfers as well as cheques.
Featured Image: Shutterstock
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