Kerala floods: Another man-made disaster
At least 24 people have died in Kerala due to flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains since Saturday. Weather experts claim a cloud burst could be one of the reasons for unseasonal rain. Many fear that the flooding could be as devastating as that in 2018, if the rainfall continues unabated. At least 400 people died and around a million more were displaced in 2018 by the worst flooding in the state in a century. The state witnessed floods in 2019 too.
The rainy season in Kerala is set off by the southwest monsoon, which begins around June 1 and ends by September 30. However, this year, thundershowers and strong winds are expected to continue till October 21. Climate scientists have been warning that there has been a shift in the rain pattern in the state, and extreme rainfall events have become a norm. Also, the frequency of cyclonic circulations over the Arabian Sea has increased, contributing to the change in the distribution of rain.
Kerala (and other states too) has been reluctant to learn from scientific evidence on the climate crisis. Instead of investing in climate-sensitive planning and resilience, successive governments have allowed destructive economic activities — rock quarrying, rampant construction, and the destruction of natural forests. The 2011 Madhav Gadgil report and the 2013 K Kasturirangan report suggested measures to protect the Western Ghats, but they have not been implemented due to protests. Instead of educating people that curbs are necessary to avoid ecological disasters, Kerala agreed to people’s demands with an eye on short-term political gains. The state is now paying a heavy price.