Kerala bears to brunt of heavy rainfall and flood in August this year. This rainfall is considered as the highest August rainfall in the living memory.
However, if we see it in larger meteorological event, this year's rainfall amount is decreasing over the last decade. Contrary to this, frequency of extreme rainfall events is increasing. The primary reason for the increase in extreme events are global warming and climate change.
Reasons of Kerala flood :
1. August in Kerala is regarded as the month of declining monsoon, saw a distinct peak, the highest over Long Period Average (LPA). This is one of the primary reasons for extensive flooding and associated damages.
2. The frequent formation of pressure lows and depressions over the north-west Bay of Bengal, their movement over the mainland and their further intensification caused an increasing flow of westerly and South-western winds over the Arabian sea along and off the Kerala coast. In addition, the frequent formation of low pressure over the mainland cause flow of equatorial monsoon winds towards the land. These strong wind interact with western ghats and caused rainfall.
3. On contrary to the IMD's forecast of neutral or negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), the occurrence of positive IOD causes heavy downpour in the end of July.
4. Another major factor is a positive Equatorial Indian Ocean Oscillation (EQUINOO).
5. Until the end of July, reservoirs were close to the full reservoir level. When the fresh onslaught of rain began, reservoirs had no buffer storage capacity to accommodate fresh inflows.
6. There was also a lack of appropriate water management strategy.
7. Unlike the other river basins elsewhere, Kerala's rivers are minor and unlike having a few days to take appropriate actions elsewhere, here the banks began to be breached within a day of the discharges and caused flooding.
8. Kerala does not figure in the Central Water Commission's (CWC) flood forecasting network of stations. Water, being a state subject, CWC does not establish a station unless a state makes a request to the center for the same.
9. Human causes-- Haphazard urban growth, destruction of the ecology of the western ghats, that added to this by landslides.
Why this Havoc :
According to the Chief Minister of Kerala, there are three reasons why the disaster causes more problems in Kerala than any other state--
i. The high population density of Kerala which is 860, way larger than the national average of 382.
Ii. Over 10% of the area in Kerala lies below sea-level: 41 rivers flow into the Arabian sea.
Iii. There are 80 dams and separate catchment for each of them.
Way Forward :
Eminent ecologists Madav Gadgil who headed the western Ghat Ecology Expert Panel (WGEP) recommended to bring several areas in Kerala under Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ). These are the areas which were recently ravaged by floods and landslides.
The Gadgil panel recommended a slew of measures for the preservation of natural environment in the ecologically fragile western Ghats, including mining, timber felling, quarrying and on the use of land for non-forest purpose.
There is a need to revisit the recommendations of Gadgil panel. Besides, proper water management strategy need to develop by considering the specificity of landscape in Kerala. In the long run, Paris Agreement need to be followed strictly at global level, so that the repercussions of the climate change can be dealt with.
Multiple Choice Questions :
Q. What happen in the event of Positive Equatorial Indian Ocean Oscillation (EQUINOO)?
i. In the event of EQUINOO there is decrease in cloud formation in eastern part of India.
Ii. In the event of EQUINOO, there is increase in cloud formation in eastern part of India.
Iii. In the event of EQUINOO, there is decrease in cloud formation in western part of African coast.
Iv. In the event of EQUINOO, there is increase in cloud formation in western part of African coast.
Hint- Try to learn these geographical terms through map.
Q. Recently, Central Water Commission (CWC) joined hand with which giant for flood forecasting and dissemination of flood related information to masses.
Hint- Easy Current affair topic. There is an increase in the number of these questions in Prelims.
Kerala flood is an important topic in GS III paper mains.
Q. The havoc of Kerala flood is both natural and man made event. What are the causes of Kerala flood? Examine.
Hint-- One can easily write a good answer by going through this article. Try to make a map and include committee names. That will provide one with edge in writing.