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Floods: Minimising the Losses of India’s largest Natural Disaster

Floods: Minimising the Losses of India’s largest Natural Disaster

Cometh Monsoon, Cometh Floods! This annually occurring natural disaster in India, over the years, has been increasing in intensity and impact affecting millions of people and causing loss of lives and property. In 2017 alone, more than 600 people have died since the onset of monsoon in June.

The incessant rain in Bihar, the worst-affected state this year, has led to death of around 253 peoples, while nearly 98 lakhs in 18 districts of the state have been affected. In Gujarat, 223 people died due to flood and similarly, deaths due to flood were reported from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh (due to land slide) and West Bengal. Moreover, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), 11 millions of people have been either affected or displaced.

Floods: A Humanitarian Crisis

Floods have been the most common type of natural disaster making up for 43 percent of the total global natural disasters.

According to a report of UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), India is among the top five countries to have been hit by natural disasters including floods, droughts and heatwaves in 2015. It has caused an economic loss of $3 billion to the state exchequer.

India in 2015 accounted for nearly 60 percent of people globally affected by floods—of the 27.5 million people affected by floods in the world 16.4 million of them were in India.

According to IFRC, the growing specter of floods year-by-year is fast becoming one of the most serious humanitarian crises and urgent action is needed to meet the growing needs of millions of people affected by these devastating floods.

Millions of people across India along with Bangladesh and Nepal are facing severe food shortages and disease caused by polluted flood waters.

What can be done?

Flood Management falls within the purview of States and a number of States have enacted laws to deal with matters connected to flood. Besides, the Central government has constituted Central Water Commission, Brahmaputra Board, Ganga Flood Control Commission, and Farakka Barrage Project Authority to deal with floods.

For prevention and mitigation effects of disasters including flood disasters and for undertaking a holistic, coordinated and prompt response to any disaster situation, the Government of India set up a National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in 2005 under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister of India.

Though these mechanisms exist but going forward what is important would be reducing greenhouse gases and adapting to climate change, if India seeks to reduce flood-related disaster risk now and in the future.

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