‘God’s own Country’ in regular flood misery

12:52 PM Oct 21, 2021 | Team Udayavani |
Kerala is ecologically sensitive owing to the geography and topography of the region.
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‘God’s own Country’ Kerala has been witnessing regular floods for the past few years. The state once again witnessed landslides and floods triggered by heavy rains, claiming the lives of more than 35 people and several people are reportedly missing.


On the other hand, the residents were cut off in parts of the state as the rains, which started on October 15, swelled rivers and flooded roads.

The military flew in emergency supplies as the rescuers scoured muddy debris for survivors. The army, navy and air force have assisted with flood relief and rescue operations.

Thousands of people have been evacuated and around 100 relief camps have been set up.

It may be recalled that on 16 August 2018, severe floods affected Kerala, due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season. It was the worst flood in Kerala in nearly a century. Over 483 people, about a million people were evacuated, mainly from Chengannur, Pandanad, Edanad, Aranmula, Kozhencherry, Ayiroor, Ranni, Pandalam, Kuttanad, Malappuram, Aluva, Chalakudy, Thrissur, Thiruvalla, Eraviperoor, Vallamkulam, North Paravur, Chellanam, Vypin Island and Palakkad.


All 14 districts of the state were placed on red alert. According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the total population of Kerala had been directly affected by floods and related incidents. The Indian government had declared it a Level 3 Calamity, or “calamity of a severe nature”.] It is the worst flood in Kerala after the great flood of 99 that took place in 1924.

Though the state has been experiencing frequent floods for several years now, there are different versions for the causes of it. Some experts consider the ‘cloudburst’ phenomenon as one of the reasons for frequent floods. Some experts point out the illegal stone-quarrying activity in Kerala as the reason for landslides and floods.

A study, conducted by Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), Miami University, Indian Meteorological Department and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said that cloudburst causes regular floods in Kerala. Cloudburst phenomenon is a pattern of rain that causes heavy rain over a limited area. It was termed the factor for the landslides that occurred in Kavalappara and Puthumala three years ago. The study was based upon the pattern of rain received in Kerala since 2018.

Some experts point out mini cloudburst behind Kerala 2021 floods.

The brief, intense rain spells in a couple of regions in Kerala indicated mini cloudbursts, a factor that also led to casualties, damage and loss of properties, a scientist at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) claimed.

Kerala is ecologically sensitive owing to the geography and topography of the region. Practically, the entire state is a drainage medium for run-off from the Western Ghats towards the Arabian Sea. As a result, the state has a dense network of rivers linking the hills to the sea. While rain is abundant across the state, statistics over recent monsoons reveal that it is, in fact, the coastal regions, especially in northern Kerala, rather than the Western Ghats that receive the bulk of the rainfall during the monsoons. Because of this, Kerala’s rivers are spared the flooding risks associated with rivers swollen with heavy volumes of run-off.

The high montane forest ecosystems of the Western Ghats, that are older than the Himalayas also influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. It is one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. Moderating the tropical climate of the region, the Western Ghats presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet.


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