NEW DELHI: About 5 persons lost their lives every day in the last three years in India due to extreme weather events related to heavy rains and floods, which caused damages of over Rs 1.25 lakh crore between 2016 and 2018, state wise data collated by Centre suggests.
What is worrying is that the cost of damage due to floods has seen a sharp rise every year. Loss in 2018 was 3.5 times more than the financial loss due to floods in 2017 and 17 times more than in 2016. The Central Water Commission (CWC) has compiled information for damages occurring due to heavy rain and floods from states, which suggest that 15 crore people were impacted across the country.
The biggest damage caused by floods are to public utilities that suffered loss of Rs 1 lakh crore, followed by Rs 16,000 crore damage to crops and loss of houses worth Rs 11,000 crore. According to the Centre, climate model simulation studies done by agencies, including Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), project possible linkages of climate change with frequency and intensity of weather-related events.
However, causal link between climate change and loss of life and property or financial loss has not been established. A majority of states in the list facing heavy losses saw episodes of flash floods, heavy rainfall and overflowing rivers in the three years.The CWC data shows that people losing lives in floods and heavy rains is on the rise with as many as 107,487 people dying in the 64 years between 1953 and 2017.
A World Bank study released in 2018 said that India accounts for one-fifth of global deaths due to floods and climate change will lower the standards of living of nearly half of India’s population by 2050. Rising extreme weather events was also reflected in the State of India’s Environment 2020 report released by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
It said that one extreme weather event happened almost every month in India through 2018 and 2019. The world witnessed 286 and 228 extreme weather events in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Of these, India recorded 23 in 2018 and nine in 2019.
In terms of deaths, 48% of the deaths in Asia due to extreme weather events happened. And in 2019, there were more deaths even though such events were fewer – 2038 people died in 2019 due to extreme weather events, compared to 1396 in 2018.