Floods in India and its Economic Consequences
A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land which is usually dry. Every year Floods in India destroy and devastate the lives of the citizens in many parts of the country. Moreover, public and private properties and resources are destroyed along with deaths of humans and domestic animals. Floods in India are mainly caused due to heavy rainfall and overflowing of the rivers during the monsoon seasons. Flood destructions have always brought misery to people, especially in the rural areas.
Causes of Floods in India
The major cause of floods is heavy rains in the catchments areas of rivers and in the poorly drained areas. In plains of few states like Punjab and Haryana, rivers overflow their banks and flood the adjoining low-level areas. In India, unusual heavy rains occur during the South-West monsoon season. Punjab-Haryana plains are one of the worst flood affected areas in country. This region accounts for more than 15% of the total losses of the country.
The Gangetic plains are of very gentle slope so the Himalayan rivers in Monsoon season starts flooding as they enter the plains. Near the Convergence of river Ganga with its tributaries, free flow of the water is interrupted when Ganga itself is in floods. Due to encroachment and destruction of natural levees the floods are further escalated. In Assam, heavy rainfall in the rainy season is the principal reason of floods in Brahmaputra Valley. Southern part of West Bengal also suffers heavy floods that are caused by poor drainage system and heavy rains.
In recent years Global warming and its various direct consequences are becoming main reasons for floods in india. Global warming is leading to change in the behaviour of Indian monsoon. Change in rainfall pattern and intensity due to unpredictable monsoon has become one of the main reasons for floods in India. Recent flood in Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Western Rajasthan and Gujarat are due to unusual Monsoon Rains.
Major causes of floods are deforested catchments area of the rivers and secondly, the offshore bars that obstruct the mouths of the rivers, eventually obstructing the free flow of water into the ocean. The deltas of Godavari River and Krishna-Godavari Rivers have also suffered floods in the country. Comparatively, in the plateau of peninsular India floods are far less destructive. Further, they are far less recurrent than in other parts of the country.
Flood prone areas in India
The National Commission on Floods, set up by the Government of India in 1976, provides statistical evidence of flood in the country. The flood prone areas in India can be divided in following four regions:
- The Ganga River Region: This region comprises of the northern plains where Ganga and its tributaries such as Yamuna, Koshi, Saptakoshi, Chambal, Ghagra, Gandak and Gomti are flown. Utter Pradesh and Bihar are the two main states. Other states in this region which are affected by the flood are Haryana and West Bengal.
- The Brahmaputra River region: In the Brahmaputra region the floods are a perennial feature. The main cause of floods here is heavy rains and large amount of silt is deposited here by the Brahmaputra and its tributaries which make the river channel swallow and its capacity to carry large amount of water is reduced. Assam is the affected state from the floods of Brahmaputra.
- The North West Rivers Region: The problem of flood is this region is less serious as compared to the one prevailing in the Ganga and Brahmaputra river regions. The major problem is that of inadequate surface drainage which causes inundation and waterlogging over vast areas. Major and minor rivers like the Sutlej, Ravi, the Beas, the Ghaggar and the Markanda are in spate during the rainy season and bring floods in Punjab-Haryana Plains.
- The Central India and the Deccan Region: The southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and parts of Madhya Pradesh are included in this region. Though the problem flood is not so serious in this region, however, the deltas of the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery suffer occasional floods.
Effects of Floods in India
Floods in India also have a drastic effect on the agricultural economy. After the floods large areas remains submerged in water for a long period of time distrusting the standing crops. Destruction both Kharif and Rabi crop in various places results in dearth conditions of the farmers and farm labours. Because of that many socioeconomic problems such as farmers suicides takes place.
Floods in India causes serious harm to infrastructure by damaging road and Railway infrastructure. Public and Private properties are destroyed resulting huge economic losses. Floods in india also results in loss of lives of human and livestock. In the 2013 Uttrakhand floods more than 20000 people and unknown numbers of animals lost their lives. Government of India has to spend a huge sum of money on relief and rehabilitation for the people every year.
When a large portion of the country remains flooded more than a week, it affects the normal life of the people badly. Floods badly affect the water supply by damaging the sewage plants. It results in the outbreak of serious vector borne diseases such as malaria, cholera and dengue. At that time, acute scarcity of food & drinking water also arises.
Flooding in the cities and the towns is a recent phenomenon caused by increasing incidence of heavy rainfall in a short period of time. Indiscriminate encroachment of waterways, inadequate capacity of drains and lack of maintenance of the drainage infrastructure are the main reasons. The Mumbai floods of 2005 are the best example of Urban floods. Keeping in view the fact that the problem is becoming more severe and losses are mounting every year, the subject of urban flooding has been recognised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) as one meriting exclusive attention and separate guidelines for its management are being prepared and will be issued soon.