Thursday, October 15, 2009

Neeta Lal in IPS: … [T]ens of thousands of people … suffered the massive impact of the devastating floods — caused by a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal — that wreaked havoc in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka early this month.

The colossal loss reported by both states in terms of lost human lives, commercial disruptions and agricultural losses is pegged at a whopping Rs 32,000 crore rupees (6.9 billion U.S. dollars). Vast swaths of farmland swamped by floods have damaged vital installations like public infrastructure, irrigation facilities, roads and power and communications links.

…This is not the first time that India has experienced a natural calamity of this magnitude. Over the last decade itself, a cyclone whip lashed the eastern state of Orissa in 1999, a gargantuan earthquake rattled Gujarat in 2001 while a tsunami tore into south India in 2004, killing and displacing millions.

Meteorologists say that natural disasters in India are increasingly happening due to the changing dynamics of climate patterns, increasing population density, unplanned urbanization, deforestation and desertification.

In an interview with IPS, agricultural scientist Dr Prabhu Swaminathan said rapid deforestation—triggered by clearing of forests to accommodate more construction and people—is a prime reason for floods in India. "Floods occur when a river breaches its maximum capacity for carrying water," explained the scientist. "When there is no forest, water rapidly reaches the rivers, increasing the possibility of floods. Indiscriminate felling of trees triggers soil deposition, which reduces land’s ability to cope with the pressures exerted by an increasing population."M…

Maari Amman Temple drowned in a flood, year unknown, shot by Mr. S. Koilraj (Dinamalar Reporter , Pallipalayam), Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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