The State of Kerala in India is witnessing unprecedented flooding. An extraordinary southwest monsoon has unleashed floods and landslides in the state. According to the India Meteorological Department, from June 1 to August 18, Kerala has received cumulative rainfall of 2344.8 mm, projecting an excess of 42% rainfall this monsoon. The ground situation continues to worsen as the incessant rain has not stopped, and the Met Department has forecasted heavy to very heavy rain statewide in the coming days and has issued a ‘red alert’ in twelve out of fourteen districts.
Around 20 million people have been reportedly affected. A total of 264 lives have been lost so far due to the extreme rainfall and associated disasters, with central and northern districts among the most affected. The hilly districts of Idukki and Wayanad have experienced the largest number of casualties due to multiple landslides. Over 3.14 lakh people have been relocated to the 1500+ relief camps that have been set up across Kerala. This has also highly increased the risk of spreading epidemics. 37 out of the 42 dams and reservoirs in the region have been opened to drain out excess water from the catchment areas. The flooding has caused severe damages to the state’s infrastructure, communications, public transport system, among others. More than 20,000 houses have been destroyed and nearly 10,000 kilometers of roads have been washed away. Services at the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), one of the major airports in Kerala, have been suspended till Saturday, August 18. Further, major sections between important railway stations have been affected with railway tracks flooded in several areas. Torrential rainfall since Tuesday has flooded many roads and national highways. Bus and auto rickshaw services are also affected, and metro services have been suspended. In a nutshell, this is the single biggest natural disaster experienced by Kerala in over a century.
The Centre and State administrations, along with the armed forces, are working together across all 14 districts. Various teams of Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Fire Force and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are actively engaged in relief efforts in the state. Their tasks involve rescuing those in stranded and swollen areas, airlifting people stranded on higher floors of their homes and apartments, and evacuating those residing in landslide-prone areas.
As Critical Edges, we felt the need to inform about this issue as soon as possible. Sadly, environmental instability and natural disasters are affecting all of us in different ways, directly as well as indirectly. To aid the affected in such a situation, we would like to encourage you to help, either by donating to the CM’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) here – (https://donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in/) or by creating awareness, and sharing knowledge that contributes to overcome this incident and prevent it from happening in the future.
Photo credits: Anonymous photographers who are witnessing the disastrous flood.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shreya is a research scholar of Sociology at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Although her research areas are higher education and politics of sociology, current events such as these make her read and write on other issues too. She is also the Managing Editor of Critical Edges Editorial Board.