Oct 18: Has Kerala learnt anything from extreme weather? Apparently not, say experts – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/has-kerala-learnt-anything-from-extreme-weather-apparently-not-say-experts-79741
- GS 3: Climate change
- GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Kerala & Extreme Weather Events
In news: At least 20 people have lost their lives and several others are missing as heavy rains led to flash floods and landslides in several parts of Kerala.
- The heavy rainfall was caused by two low pressure weather systems which evolved over peninsular India.
- But other climate experts have cited cloudbursts as the cause.
- Lack of climate change literacy leading to higher economic activities like rock quarrying, construction of new buildings and roads and destruction of natural forest in the highly economic zones.
- The sorry state of Kerala’s rivers, backwaters and wetlands also contributes to the situation as they fail to absorb the excess amounts of water being discharged from dams and other storage.
Floods and Kerala
- The situation, which may turn out to be a repeat of the 2018 floods if rain continues, has also led to widespread criticism from environmentalists calling it an “invited disaster” by the region.
- In the floods that occurred in August 2016, around 341 major landslides were reported from 10 districts, while Idukki, considered as a highly sensitive zone by Gadgil, was ravaged by 143 landslides. The 2018 floods had claimed close to 500 lives.
- In August 2011, the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel chaired by Madhav Gadgil had submitted its report.
- Even after 10 years and appointment of another committee led by K Kasturirangan, the highly ecologically sensitive region in Kerala continued to be an epi-centre of construction activities. No action was taken on these reports after widespread protests from farmers, the church and political parties.
The Way Forward – What should Kerala do?
The situation demands long-term mitigating actions from Kerala rather than short-term rehabilitation and rescue activities during every calamity. Kerala should follow a development model taking note of the change in monsoon behaviour.
- A renewed focus on illegal constructions. There is a need for soil study and examining possibilities of soil piping phenomena while undertaking more significant construction works.
- Change in land use patterns in the sensitive Western Ghats that have occurred in last 25 years
- Climate-resilient construction and agricultural practices
- Improve the water management system of Kerala
- Work through the limitations in forecasting rain, especially extreme rainfall events
- Prioritise fair and transparent environmental impact assessments when it takes up larger development projects requiring massive infrastructure and changes in land-use patterns.
Can you answer the following question?
- Cloudbursts and extreme rainfall events leading to flash floods are the new normal for Kerala. Discuss.
- Kasturirangan Report
- Madhav Gadgil Report
- Flood protection to flood governance