As monsoon intensify, at least 46 people die in floods in Uttarakhand
Since last Friday, torrential rains have raged in the Himalayan region, causing huge damage. As environmental disasters steadily increase in India, experts predict a 20 per cent rise in extreme rainfall due to climate change.
Uttarakhand (AsiaNews) – At least 46 people have been killed by floods and landslides caused by violent rains in Uttarakhand, a state in northern India, at the foot of the Himalayas.
The effects of bad weather, which has not let up since last Friday, have also affected Kerala, a state much further to south, causing the death of 26 people.
During the monsoon season, India regularly experiences the effects of torrential rains that cause hardships and catastrophes across the country.
However, in recent years, the rain has fallen with unprecedented force. Some districts in Uttarakhand have recorded more than 400mm of rain in 24 hours.
This has produced Incalculable damage to homes and infrastructures; bridges have been swept away by raging rivers, cars have been submerged by floods, and roads have been covered by fast moving waters.
In Uttarakhand, rescue teams have been working relentlessly for days. It is estimated that the 16 teams deployed by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have saved at least 300 people so far.
The current situation is expected to continue for a few more days.
Meanwhile, the effects of climate change in the Indian subcontinent are already devastating with catastrophe following each other during each monsoon season.
Measuring the duration and intensity of rainfall has become increasingly difficult. A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)[*] warned in August that weather events will get worse in coming years.
“Indian sub-continent will have a 20 per cent surge in extreme rainfall events,” said Abinash Mohanty, a Programme Lead in the Risks and Adaptation team at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a think-tank working on environmental issues.
“The projections,” he added, “suggest that rainfall will become incessant and erratic leading to floods, depressions will intensify into deep depressions, and cyclonic events will become more frequent across eastern and western coasts,”
It is not only the floods and torrential rains that are frightening. The steady rise in temperatures is leading to a progressive melting and retreat of glaciers which, in the northern regions of India, could cause unpredictable avalanches.
Like the one that overwhelmed a group of climbers on Mount Trishul, right in Uttarakhand, three weeks ago.
The experts also note that melting glaciers in the Himalayan region will significantly increase water levels in its rivers, which will, in turn, overflow downstream, causing huge damage to riverine villages.
All this is happening at a time when India pursues a plan to build dams to meet rising energy demands.
[*] A group of climate experts mandated by the UN to study human-induced climate change.