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6,000 Indians lost lives in floods caused by extreme rainfall events in last three years: Data


NEW DELHI: With climate change increasing the risk of extreme weather events like flooding, nearly 6,000 people lost their lives, and incurred damages worth Rs 59,000 crore, which is nearly equivalent to one-third of the country’s infrastructure budget for the road and highways sector, due to floods in the last three years.

The figures reflect only the data reported by 70 per cent of the states as several major states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu along with nearly half-dozen states/UTs did not share the data related to damages caused due to floods.

If the country-wide data is available, the cost of damage due to floods could be much higher.  

The data on damages due to heavy rain and floods is compiled by the Central Water Commission (CWC) after receipt of confirmation from respective States.

The data shows that 1839 lives were lost while Rs 21,849 crore damages were caused to crops, houses, and other public utilities in 2018 while 2754 died and Rs 15,863 crore damages were incurred. The floods in several states in 2020 left 1365 dead and damages worth Rs 21,190 crore were caused, the data was shared by the Ministry of Jal Shakti in Lok Sabha in response to a question.

An assessment of a sectoral and regional analysis for the 2030s report by the union environment ministry shows that a rise in temperatures would increase flood events in frequency during the end of the century (2071-2100).

“Temperatures in the Himalayan region are projected to rise up to 2.6 degrees Celsius and also increase in intensity by 2-12 per cent by 2030s. This will result in increased flash flood events leading to large-scale landslides and loss of agricultural area affecting food security,” stated the report.

Several states in the country saw massive floods this monsoon due to extreme rainfall events and it is becoming a regular phenomenon and expected to intensify in coming years, according to climate experts.   

“We see a rise in ocean surface temperatures of up to 1.2–1.4 deg C in the Arabian Sea, which has resulted in a 50 per cent increase in intense cyclones and a three-fold rise in extreme rainfall events causing floods across India. Climate projections indicate an increase of up to 3.8 deg C in the Indian Ocean by the end of the century if we do not cut down carbon emissions. This would affect the most vulnerable population in South Asia,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a senior climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report says that global hotspots of high human vulnerability are found particularly in West, Central, and East Africa, South Asia, Central, and South America, Small Island Developing States, and the Arctic (high confidence).

“Between 2010-2020, human mortality from floods, droughts, and storms was 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions, compared to regions with very low vulnerability (high confidence). Vulnerability is higher in locations with poverty, governance challenges and limited access to basic services and resources, violent conflict, and high levels of climate-sensitive livelihoods (e.g., smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fishing communities) (high confidence),” said the report.