Over the past few years, Kerala has been hit hard by heavy downpours, floods, landslides, and droughts. Heavy rains were recorded in the state during 1924, 1961, 2018, and 2021. One of the main contributors to the present climate issue is the carbon that people have released into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. However, the effects of climate change have been amplified by human activity. It is crucial to take the necessary precautions to lessen the effects of natural catastrophes like floods and landslides in Kerala, a state that is both heavily inhabited and geographically small. Kerala's changing climate is probably a result of the state's topography, altered land use patterns, urbanisation, development activities, and high population density.
Only 120 kilometres separate Kerala's eastern and western regions at their greatest distance. There are locations within these 120 kilometres that are above sea level (Anamudi, Idukki district) and locations that are up to 2 metres below it (Alappuzha and Kottayam districts). In Kerala, water from 41 rivers that flow west must travel 120 km to the sea. About 58 dams are thought to exist in Kerala. Although dams are a result of industrialization, other things also interfere with river’s normal flow.
An unparalleled level of disaster befell the coastal Indian state of Kerala in 2018. Large areas of the state were submerged by the greatest floods in recent history, which also triggered landslides throughout the perilous Western Ghats Mountain range. Following the deluge, thousands of people were compelled to seek temporary refuge, hundreds of people suffered injuries, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Rescue and relief activities were marked by an amazing spirit of action, togetherness, and charity in the midst of this catastrophe. Fishermen volunteered their services to help with rescue operations further inland, individuals from all social strata offered their homes to strangers in need, and money flowed in from all across the world.
What was the prime cause of the flooding?
Rainfall was 250 percent over average between August 8 and August 15, and it was 42 percent above average from June 1 and August 18, according to the IMD (Indian Meteorological Department). A remarkable deviation from the usual. All of Kerala's big dams had to have their emergency shutters opened in order to deal with the heavy rains and avert structural collapses. As a result, rivers that were already swollen were overrun by torrents of water flowing downstream. Some of the critics here blamed ineffective disaster management for delaying the progressive release of water. Aside from widespread floods, the nonstop rains also caused multiple landslides, which were largely to blame for the majority of recorded fatalities.
Would a heads-up have made a difference in this case? The prediction of such catastrophic occurrences during the monsoon season is still low, and climate science and meteorology are still fraught with uncertainty.