People wade through a flooded street following heavy rains in Vasai Maharashtra on Tuesday 10 July 2018. Photo: PTI

By Prasoon Singh
4 August 2018

(Daily O) – It was the summer of 1995, monsoon was approaching, and like all other children, I was anxiously waiting for it. Monsoon used to be a treat for us — we celebrated rain with a rhyme, ‘Monsoon Brings the Rain’. That summer, monsoon arrived with its full strength and the district administration sent an advisory directing all schools and colleges to be closed. The early onset of monsoon brought a smile to not only me, but everyone around, as most of the people I was living with were farmers.

However, time passed, and now, ‘Monsoon brings the rain’ has changed into ‘Monsoon brings flood and destruction’.

The journey from smile to distress, happiness to pain, celebration to destruction is crimped into the story of the change in India’s hydrological past, present, and future. What has changed in these years is the increase in the probability of damaging floods in India, and indeed, around the world. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that living with disasters has become a new normal.

During monsoon, India experiences floods each year in many parts of the country. About 40 million hectares — almost 12 per cent of India’s geographical area — is subjected to pluvial floods, of which about 8 million hectares are susceptible to annual flooding. The estimated loss from floods accounts for $7 billion each year in India. 

Several studies on the Indian region have documented a significant rise in the frequency and duration of monsoon rainfall during the recent decades. Therefore, increase in frequency of high intensity and erratic rainfall is the likely hydrological future of India.

Indian commuters walk through floodwaters past stranded motor vehicles after heavy torrential rains paralysed the city of Mumbai in July 2005. Photo: Sebastian D'Souza / AFP / Getty Images

Complimenting riverine floods is urban flooding, a growing concern for policy makers and researchers.  It is estimated that 40 per cent of India will live in urban areas by 2030, as compares to 30 per cent in 2011. Flooding in mega cities is a challenge, given the impact on people, infrastructure and economy.

Mumbai has become a classic case of urban flooding, and has been extensively studied. The July 2005 deluge in Mumbai was a wakeup call, when the city experienced the worst flooding in its recorded history. The impact was such that the city was at a standstill for three days, with an estimated loss of Rs 30 billion and over a thousand lives. [more]

Monsoon floods will only get worse in India. This is what can be done to help



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