Indian PM Modi Says Flood-Hit People Getting Aid, Blames Climate Change

NEW DELHI, July 31 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Authorities across India are taking steps to help millions of people hit by floods and to prepare for future disasters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, adding that climate change and new weather patterns were having a “big negative impact”.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi takes stock of the flood situation in affected parts of Gujarat, on July 25, 2017. Photo: Government of India

At least 130 people have died in western and northeastern parts of India and millions of people have been affected by floods that have submerged villages, washed away crops, destroyed roads and disrupted power and phone lines.

Heavy monsoon rains have caused mighty rivers like the Brahmaputra river and their tributaries to burst their banks forcing people into relief camps in states such as Gujarat, Assam, Rajasthan and West Bengal.

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

“Mother Nature gives us life and nurtures us, but at times natural catastrophes such as floods and earthquakes wreak havoc on a massive scale,” Modi said in his monthly radio address to the nation on Sunday.

“Climate change, altered weather cycles, and transformations in the environment, are also having a big negative impact.”

India usually experiences monsoon rains from June to September, which are vital for its agriculture — making up 18 percent of its gross domestic product and providing employment for almost half of its 1.3 billion population.

But in many states across the country, the rains frequently cause rivers to overflow and flooding forces millions into temporary camps, devastates standing crops, destroys homes and exposes people to diseases such as diarrhoea.

The torrential rains this year have not only triggered landslides in hilly regions like Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, they have also flooded national parks, forcing wildlife, including the rare one-horned rhinoceros, to flee.

The fast-flowing waters have also breached embankments and eroded dikes in some areas, leaving some roads inaccessible, compounding efforts to rescue marooned villagers.

Above Average

Rains have been 4 percent above average since the four-month monsoon season began in June, according to the state-run India Meteorological Department.

Modi said relief efforts were being carried out on an “extensive scale” with camps set up for the displaced and search and rescue teams deployed.

“Life goes completely topsy-turvy as a result of the floods. Crops, livestock, infrastructure, roads, electricity, communication links – everything gets affected,” said Modi.

“In particular, our farmer brethren have to bear a lot of losses because of the damage to their crops and fields.”

Modi said pre-emptive measures were put in place ahead of the monsoon season.

A scheme for crop insurance companies to ensure quick settlements of claims by farmers and a 24/7 helpline for flood-hit communities was set up, he said, and mock drills conducted by the National Disaster Response Forces.

Volunteers in flood-prone regions have also been enlisted and trained in basic “dos and don’ts” to advise communities at risk, he said, adding that it was important to use technology more in order adapt to the changing weather patterns.

“We should also gradually make it our nature to set our work patterns according to the weather predictions, which could safeguard us against losses,” he said.

Reporting by Nita Bhalla, editing by Ros Russell for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters.

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.

Flood Summary

Last updated: July 25, 2017
Event
Assam, India, Late June to July 2017
Date
June 25, 2017
Type
River flood
Cause
Long-term rainfall
The first wave of flooding in Assam state began in early June, affecting the districts of Lakhimpur, Karimganj and Darrang. The flood water receded in many areas but heavy rain in late June. By 30 June, 95,000 people were affected, with most of them in Karimganj.  More rain in early July caused floods affecting 270,000 people in 6 districts: Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Cachar, Dhemaji, Biswanath, Karimganj. By mid July, flooding affected over 20 districts, in particular Jorhat, Golaghat, Cachar, Dhemjai, Biswanath, Karimganj, Barpeta, Karbi Anglong, Sinotpur, Darrang, Hojai, Majuli, Lakhimpur, Kokrajhar and Nagaon.

Locations

A - Jorhat
B - Golaghat
C - Dhemjai
D - Karimganj
E - Sinotpur
F - Darrang
G - Lakhimpur
H - Kokrajhar

Magnitude

Rainfall level
70.2 mm in 24 hours
North Lakhimpur - July 11 to July 12, 2017
Rainfall level
74 mm in 24 hours
Dibrugarh - July 11 to July 12, 2017
All rainfall figures via Ogimet
Rainfall level
198 mm in 24 hours
North Lakhimpur - July 10 to July 11, 2017
Rainfall level
270 mm in 24 hours
North Lakhimpur - July 9 to July 10, 2017
Rainfall level
82 mm in 24 hours
Dibrugarh - July 9 to July 10, 2017
Rainfall level
65.8 mm in 24 hours
Gauhati - July 9 to July 10, 2017
Rainfall level
75 mm in 24 hours
Tezpur - July 9 to July 10, 2017
Rainfall level
200 mm in 24 hours
North Lakhimpur - July 8 to July 9, 2017
Rainfall level
58.8 mm in 24 hours
Dibrugarh - July 8 to July 9, 2017
Rainfall level
87 mm in 24 hours
North Lakhimpur - July 7 to July 8, 2017
Rainfall level
59 mm in 24 hours
Gangtok - July 2 to July 3, 2017
Rainfall level
48.6 mm in 24 hours
North Lakhimpur - July 2 to July 3, 2017
Rainfall level
133 mm in 24 hours
Tezpur - July 2 to July 3, 2017
Rainfall level
125 mm in 24 hours
North Lakhimpur - July 1 to July 2, 2017
Rainfall level
72 mm in 24 hours
Gangtok - July 1 to July 2, 2017
Rainfall level
57 mm in 24 hours
Dhubri - July 1 to July 2, 2017
Rainfall level
111 mm in 24 hours
Tezpur - July 1 to July 2, 2017
Rainfall level
63 mm in 24 hours
Gangtok - June 30 to July 1, 2017
Rainfall level
171 mm in 24 hours
North Lakhimpur - June 30 to July 1, 2017
River level
28.54 metres
Brahmaputra river, Dhubri - July 3 to July 3, 2017
danger level is 28.62 metres
River level
19.65 metres
Barak river, Annapurna Ghat, Cachar district - July 3 to July 3, 2017
danger level is 19.83 metres
River level
65.47 metres
Brahmaputra river, Tezpur - July 14 to July 14, 2017
danger level is 65.23 metres
River level
15.31 metres
Kushiyara at Karimganj - July 14 to July 14, 2017
danger level is 14.94 metres
River level
29.51 metres
Brahmaputra river at Dhubri - July 14 to July 14, 2017
danger level is 28.62 metres
River level
36.61 metres
Brahmaputra river at Goalpara - July 14 to July 14, 2017
danger level is 36.27 metres

Damages

Fatalities
76 people
Assam - June 25 to July 24, 2017
Evacuated
48,483
July 12 to July 12, 2017
Over 4,000 of those displaced were in Lakhimpur; 5,500 in Kokrajhar and 5,600 in Golaghat.
Crop damage
140,837
Assam - June 25 to July 12, 2017

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