1100 Roads damaged, 94 bridges washed away, 60k+ people stranded and over 150 people killed and this figure is bound to increase as floods have not helped army operations in search of bodies. Even though we might consider this as a natural disaster, some evidence imply towards us for the calamity. The thing which needs to be seen between the lines is the balance between sustainability and development. In hilly areas, the balance shaken can be much more disastrous than the plain land. To no ones surprise, disaster management in Uttarakhand have not met once even after being formed in 2007. CAG raised questions on it few months ago, sadly, it was left unheard by any media channels, politicians and at large, the people. But the question is, are we really responsible? Lets see some evidences.
United Kingdom has faced the wettest summers ever recorded in more than two centuries of recordkeeping, China faced heavy rains, Pakistan was also affected by floods. That is not all Mozambique, Uruguay, Sudan, Malaysia, Philippine and India suffered remarkable floods, much more in frequency than before. The experts warned that more extreme weather is likely to come if global warming continues unabated. The early monsoon hit North India is continuing to wreak havoc with Uttarakhand being the worst hit state. It is badly affected by landslides, flash floods and heavy rains. The death toll is reaching 150, even the number will be much higher rains subside and thousands, lacs are left homeless. Experts say rapid deforestation and construction work in the hills are some of the reasons behind frequent floods and landslides. Ecological balance on the hills can have devastating impact, this is an example! Besides, more than 220 power and mining projects are running in 14 rivers valleys in Uttarakhand. Don’t you think Hydropower, mining projects, deforestation are the causes behind the landslides and floods in Uttarakhand?
A new scientific report commissioned by the World Bank which released on 19 June 2013 answered the question. Based on the scientific analysis by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, the risks to agriculture and livelihood security, the raise in sea-level, loss of coral reefs and devastation to coastal areas likely in South East Asia; and the fluctuating water resources in South Asia that can lead to flooding in some areas and water scarcity in others. Unpredictable monsoon season and usual heat extremes will affect crops & life. Loss of snow melt from the Himalayas will reduce the flow of water into the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra basins, again bringing more water to these areas resulting in flooding.
Besides based on a detailed analysis of weather data of the last five years in Leh, scientists found that increased temperature and hot summers in the plains land led to increased evaporation and subsequent cold formation in the hills. Bright sunshine causing melting of snow and high relative humidity (72 %) as compared to previous years (50 %). The clouds could not retain the water droplets that lead to the cloudburst which led to flash floods and mudslides. This is very much relevant in case of Uttarakhand as well. The report was compiled by Defence Ministry of India.
According to the United Nations extreme weather is a sign of global warming and it blamed the record hot average global temperature for spawning flooding, deadly heat waves and wildfires. There is not just implication but clear proofs that Global Warming made the flood in Uttrakhand. Reinsurer Munich Re said a natural catastrophe database it runs “shows that the number of extreme weather events like windstorm and floods has tripled since 1980 and the trend is expected to persist.”
Human have devastated the environment for their development. We are using the natural resources for our wealth. We have not understood that we are depleting what nature provides. So India is already hit by global warming. The combined impact of increasingly dramatic floods and hurricanes could make population homeless. When populations are subjected to these devastating phenomena, they eventually move away. But where we will move except the Earth?