The rise in extreme weather events - Hindustan Times
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The rise in extreme weather events

ByHT Editorial
Jul 23, 2021 06:10 PM IST

Over the past month, India has seen several rain-related extreme weather events—the effects of the climate crisis and poor planning

Mahabaleshwar, a hill station in Maharashtra’s Satara district in the Western Ghats, on Friday, recorded the highest ever rainfall in its history: 60cm in the previous 24 hours. More than 35 people have died in rain-induced landslides in the state’s coastal Raigad district. Mumbai continues to be battered by heavy rainfall and has been placed under orange alert (“heavy to very heavy rain at isolated places”). Other parts of the western coast, including cities and towns in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa, have also recorded exceptional rainfall and flooding in the last 24 hours. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) classifies rainfall as “extremely heavy” if an area records 20 cm or more in 24 hours. An offshore trough running from the Maharashtra coast to north Kerala coast is causing such heavy rains and is likely to weaken from July 26, said IMD.

Indian Air Force teams carry out rescue work in flood-hit Chiplun in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, following heavy monsoon rain. (PTI)
Indian Air Force teams carry out rescue work in flood-hit Chiplun in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, following heavy monsoon rain. (PTI)

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Over the past month, India has seen several rain-related extreme weather events. Last week, 31 people died in a series of house collapses after a short burst of intense rain triggered landslides in Mumbai. Both Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have seen incessant rainfall, with a flash flood in the latter. Delhi has seen some shorter, intense bursts of rain in the last few days, but only after a slow and delayed start to the monsoon. These wayward weather events carry not only the indelible sign of a surging climate crisis but are also a compelling reminder that the country is under-equipped to tackle many of its effects, such as urban flooding and flash floods. But just blaming the climate crisis will be wrong. Despite some proactive efforts by some states, India’s development plans are marked by frenzied and unregulated construction, even on flood plains, an utter disregard for natural topography and hydro-geomorphology, and poor quality affordable housing. Along with overburdened drainage, these are only exacerbating the effects of the climate crisis, leading to large-scale human tragedies and destruction of property.

In 100 days, the world will witness the Cop26 summit, the vital United Nations climate talks that open on November 1 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. The extreme weather events in India and across the world (floods across Europe and China, wildfires in the United States, killer heatwaves stretching into northern latitudes) are a sharp reminder of what is at stake, and the express need to accelerate worldwide measures that are required to control the climate crisis.

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