India to Move 15 Flood-Prone Villages to Higher Ground to Mitigate Impact

MUMBAI, India, Sept 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The western Indian state of Gujarat will move 15 villages that were affected by floods this year to higher ground, officials said, as they look for new ways to tackle the increasing frequency and intensity of flooding.

An aerial view of flood affected area of Gujarat, on July 25, 2017. Photo: Government of Gujarat

Villages in northern Banaskantha and Patan districts will be moved within a 10 km (6 miles) radius of their existing locations after consultation with residents, state Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel told reporters.

“These villages are in low-lying areas and were affected by similar floods in 2015. They will now be moved to higher ground in a nearby location,” he said.

The state will offer financial support to rebuild homes and also build schools and other facilities, he added.

The relocation will be modelled after a similar move following a massive earthquake in 2001 that levelled several villages in the state and killed thousands, Patel said.

Heavy monsoon rains in South Asia this year triggered the worst floods in a decade in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, killing hundreds of people and affecting tens of millions.

India has the most exposure to damage from river flooding, according to research organisation World Resources Institute.

While monsoon rains trigger floods in northern and eastern India every year, Gujarat state, which is in a semi-arid region, has also experienced floods more frequently in recent years as warming temperatures bring heavier rains.

Analysts have criticised the government’s flood mitigation measures, including massive embankments and river linking schemes they say will only exacerbate the damage.

An official audit of India’s flood management schemes over the last decade found they lacked forecasting mechanisms, preemptive safety measures and effective post-flood management.

Dinesh Mishra from the non-government organisation Barh Mukti Abhiyan, which works with communities in flood-prone areas, said officials in Gujarat must not coerce people into moving, and need to ensure residents are given adequate compensation for any losses suffered due to the move.

“Relocation may be a solution in Gujarat, where there is land, but what about other states where there is nowhere to go?,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“People have deep ties to where they live; you cannot move everyone affected by floods to higher ground.”

Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, editing by Belinda Goldsmith for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters.

Gujarat suffered major flooding during the monsoon 2017. See below:

Flood Summary

Last updated: August 2, 2017
Event
Gujarat, India, July 2017
Date
July 15 to July 17, 2017
Type
Flash flood, River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall
Long-term heavy rainfall, particularly from early / mid July, caused flooding in several districts of Gujarat. The airport in Ahmedabad Airport was partially flooded on 26 July, forcing airlines to divert flights. Reuters reported that tens of thousands of cotton farmers also suffering heavy damage.

Locations

A - Banaskantha
B - Gandhinagar
C - Arvalli
D - Rajkot
E - Devbhoomi Dwarka
F - Gir Somnath
G - Kutch
H - Surendranagar
I - Sabarkatha
J - Patan
K - Ahmedabad
L - Mahesana

Magnitude

Rainfall level
322 mm in 24 hours
Abdasa, Kutch - July 15 to July 16, 2017
Rainfall level
259 mm in 24 hours
Jodia, Jamnagar - July 15 to July 16, 2017
Rainfall level
236 mm in 24 hours
Dasada, Surendranagar - July 15 to July 16, 2017
Rainfall level
206 mm in 24 hours
Rajkot - July 15 to July 16, 2017
Rainfall level
277 mm in 24 hours
Valsad, Valsad district - July 18 to July 18, 2017
Rainfall level
201 mm in 24 hours
Choryasi, Surat district - July 19 to July 19, 2017
Rainfall level
180 mm in 24 hours
Mangrol, Surat district - July 20 to July 20, 2017
Rainfall level
169 mm in 24 hours
Veraval, Gir Somnath district - July 21 to July 21, 2017
Rainfall level
325 mm in 24 hours
Chotila, Surendranagar district - July 22 to July 22, 2017
Rainfall level
219 mm in 24 hours
Kalol, Gandhinagar district - July 23 to July 23, 2017
Rainfall level
342 mm in 24 hours
Dantiwada, Banaskantha district - July 24 to July 24, 2017
Rainfall level
463 mm in 24 hours
Dantiwada, Banaskantha district - July 25 to July 25, 2017
Rainfall level
219 mm in 24 hours
Himatanagar, Sabarkantha district - July 26 to July 26, 2017
River level
44.8 metres
Sabarmati River at Subhash Bridge, Ahmedabad - July 25 to July 25, 2017
Danger level is 45.4
River level
21.2 metres
Sabarmati River at Vautha, Ahmadabad district - July 28 to July 28, 2017
Flood level is 21 metres

Damages

Fatalities
218 people
July 15 to August 1, 2017
The death toll increased dramatically as officials found more than 100 bodies once waters began receding.
Rescued
400 people
July 15 to July 17, 2017
Evacuated
32,000
July 18 to July 27, 2017
Buildings destroyed
15 buildings
July 15 to July 26, 2017
A further 65 homes have been damaged, according to a National Disaster Management Division report of 26 July.
Affected
350,000
July 15 to July 26, 2017
according to a National Disaster Management Division report of 26 July.

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