Saturday, June 29, 2013

More Uttarakhand disasters in the offing

More Uttarakhand disasters in the offing
Author(s): Indrajit Bose @boseindrajit

Date:Jun 28, 2013
The cloudburst-induced flood in Uttarakhand was a disaster waiting to happen. The state’s draft action plan on climate change is full of such warnings. A prudent document, it captures vulnerability assessments on Uttarakhand, people’s perceptions of climate change and how they are getting affected by the change. The document is also a comment on the development model in the state and raises several points about how development should not be done in an ecologically fragile region. The draft plan also gives a long list of activities that the state has planned or is planning to make its people more resilient, but it is a case of too little, too late as far as the current floods are concerned.

Vulnerable state

Uttarakhand has been a story of droughts, landslides and floods. In 2008 and 2009, the state experienced severe drought conditions. In 2010, people had to grapple with floods, flash floods, landslides and cloud bursts. Little wonder that the draft plan says “Uttarakhand is most vulnerable to climate-mediated risks”. 

The document cites instances of receding glaciers, depleting natural resources and erratic rainfall to reinforce this point. These are accompanied by more indicators such as irregular winter rains, changes in flowering pattern and drying up of perennial streams that point to a change happening in the hill state, some that people have observed (see box: people’s perceptions). And these changes have large-scale impacts.

For instance, changes in monsoon are a clear food security threat. Uttarakhand receives about 90 per cent of its annual rainfall during the monsoon season. Even a 20 to 30 per cent change in the monsoon pattern can significantly affect food productivity, says the draft plan. It further warns that climate change will “significantly alter” hydrological systems, erosion and sedimentation in the region, besides causing more floods, landslides and damages to the landmass. In fact, flooding will increase between 10 and over 30 per cent of the existing magnitudes, which will impact existing infrastructure. 

Comment by Anumakonda Jagadeesh

Very critical analysis. Yes. The Government should be alert and should take all precautions so that such calamities won't recur. It is not the raising donations from people to help the victims of such disasters that is expected from Government but long term holistic plan keeping in view the ecological and economic aspects of the development of the region.


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