India – 11 Dead in Telangana Floods, Dams Remain Dangerously High

At least 11 people have died after several days of flooding in the Indian state of Telangana. Parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam and Maharashtra states have also been affected by flooding after heavy rain since 21 September.

A total of 17 teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), comprising over 550 personnel, 60 boats and teams of paramedics, have been deployed by India’s central government to the flood-affected regions of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.

At least 17 people have died in floods in the districts of Guntur and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Telangana

In Telangana, much of the media focus was on the flooding in the state’s capital, Hyderabad, where streets were flooded and Army and NDRF teams were drafted in to carry out rescue and relief work.

However, no deaths or serious injures have been reported in Hyderabad, unlike the district of Medak to the north of Hyderabad, where 8 people have died and 24 workers stranded at Edupayala stream had to be airlifted to safety by an Air Force helicopter. Three deaths were also reported in the district of Warangal, north east of Hyderabad.

NDRF teams have been deployed to Nizamabad and Medak districts, as well as Hyderabad.

Rivers, Dams and Evacuations

Telangana’s first chief minister, K. Chandrashekar Rao, has warned the districts of Warangal and Khammam to be on alert for flooding from the Godavari river.

Several of the state’s dams are close to maximum levels. Telangana Minister for Irrigation, Harish Rao Thanneeru, said that, excluding Nizam Sagar, all irrigation projects along the Godavari River are “full to the brim”.

The chief minister announced on 25 September that water releases were needed to ease the flows in some of the dams. Water releases can increase the flood risk of communities further downstream. Over 1,000 villagers have been evacuated from areas downstream of the Mid Manair dam in Karimnagar district as a precautionary measure.

As of 27 September, CWC figures showed the level of the Sriram Sagar at 332.02 metres, where the maximum is 333.15 metres. The Singur Dam stood at 523.5 metres, where the maximum is 523.6 metres. Levels of the Nizam Sagar dam are also high, despite the Minister for Irrigation excluding the dam from his list. As of 28 September, CWC reports that the dam is at 428 metres, where the maximum is 428.24 metres.

Rainfall

According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) figures, the heavy rain in Telangana began on 20 September. Figures below are approximate for a 24 hour period between 20 and 21 September, 2016.

  • Hakimpet – 170 mm
  • Palakurthi – 150 mm
  • Ghanpur – 150 mm
  • Mulakalapalli – 150 mm
  • Shamirpet – 130 mm
  • Kukatpally – 120 mm
  • Jangaon – 110 mm
  • Kothagudem – 100 mm
  • Hyderabad – 70 mm

Hyderabad Floods

Many observers of the flooding in Hyderabad were fearing a repeat of the floods that hit the city in August 2000, when 240 mm of rain fell in 24 hours between 22 and 24 August. As with the recent flooding, no fatalities were reported in 2000. However, streets and buildings suffered severe damage, including some of the newer property developments as well as areas known to be flood-prone.

A report looking into the causes of the August 2000 floods by the Geological Survey of India (PDF) found that rapid development had resulted in new buildings blocking drainage channels across the city. New developments were also built in areas that were once ponds or small lakes (often known as tanks), thus removing water bodies that could retain water during period of heavy rainfall.

In a recent article, Scroll India pointed out that the lessons of 2000 have not been learned. The current flooding has also been exacerbated by new buildings impairing drainage systems and encroaching on water bodies.

“After the Hyderabad floods of 2000, the Kirloskar committee went into the reasons behind the flooding and in its report submitted in 2003, pointed out that 13,500 illegal structures had come up on 390 km of drains. The fact that 173 km of that drainage network connected directly to the Musi river meant water flow was seriously impaired.

“Hyderabad, like Bengaluru, was once a city of lakes. Over the past two decades, as it transformed into a major IT centre, 169 water bodies are estimated to have been encroached upon and converted into residential colonies and commercial complexes.”

Flood summary

Last updated: September 29, 2016
Event
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, India, September 2016
Date
September 20, 2016
Type
Inland flood, River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall, Long-term rainfall

Locations

A - Hyderabad
B - Medak
C - Warangal
D - Guntur
E - Visakhapatnam

Magnitude

Rainfall level
170 mm in 24 hours
Hakimpet, Telangana - September 20 to September 21, 2016
Rainfall level
150 mm in 24 hours
Palakurthi, Telangana - September 20 to September 21, 2016
Rainfall level
150 mm in 24 hours
Palakurthi, Telangana - September 20 to September 21, 2016
Rainfall level
117 mm in 24 hours
Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh - September 20 to September 21, 2016
Rainfall level
171 mm in 24 hours
Dachepalle, Andhra Pradesh - September 23 to September 24, 2016
Rainfall level
151 mm in 24 hours
Pulipadu, Andhra Pradesh - September 23 to September 24, 2016

Damages

Fatalities
8 people
Medak, Telangana - September 21 to September 27, 2016
Fatalities
3 people
Warangal, Telangana - September 21 to September 27, 2016
Evacuated
12,000
Karimnagar, Telangana - September 21 to September 29, 2016
Fatalities
10 people
Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh - September 21 to September 29, 2016
Fatalities
7 people
Guntur, Andhra Pradesh - September 21 to September 29, 2016
Evacuated
7,000
Guntur, Andhra Pradesh - September 21, 2016
Evacuated
40,000
Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh - September 21, 2016
figure is estimated - officlas reported only the number of families evacuated (10,000)