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2024 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

4. Recent Disasters in Kerala: Evidences from the Field

Author : Varnav Somwal

Published in: Making India Disaster Resilient

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

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Abstract

The Western Ghats, (The Western Ghats are older than the Himalayan mountain chain and are internationally recognized as a ‘hot-spot’ of biological diversity. They run parallel to India’s western coast and traverse Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.) a United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, is one of the ‘hot-spots’ of biological diversity in the world. The mountain range covers an area of 140,000 km2 in a stretch of 1600 km parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula, traversing the states of Tamil Nadu, Goa, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. However, in recent times, the Western Ghats that were once covered in dense forests now has lost much of its natural beauty. Today, a large part of the range has been logged or converted to agriculture land for tea, coffee, rubber and oil palm or cleared for livestock grazing, reservoirs and roads. The growth of population around the protected areas and other forests has also led to habitat destruction, increased fragmentation, wildlife poaching and human–wildlife conflict. The biodiversity and ecosystem of the Western Ghats are threatened by pollution, mining and deforestation. Only one-third of the region is under natural vegetation, and much of this is degraded. A large part of the original natural vegetation was lost or converted to cultivated lands, coffee and tea plantations and hydroelectric reservoirs. Driven by economic development, population growth and the rising demand for power, agriculture commodities and minerals, pressures on the region’s natural ecosystem are intensifying. Kerala, in particular, has had its fair share of disasters in recent times. God’s own country is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and the changing climatic dynamics because of its location along the seacoast. Kerala is also one of the most densely populated Indian states making it more extremely vulnerable to damages and loses on account of disasters. Floods being the most common of natural hazard in the state. Nearly 14.5% of the state’s land area is prone to floods. Between June 1 and August 18, 2018, Kerala experienced the worst floods in its history since 1924. During this period, the state received cumulative rainfall that was 42% in the excess of the normal average. According to the reports of the state government, 1259 out of 1664 villages spread across its 14 districts were affected. The devastating floods affected 5.4 million people, displaced 1.4 million people and took as many as 433 lives. Kerala is immensely vulnerable to disasters due to the fact that the study area is a tourist attraction as well as a home to numerous people. The area is densely populated. Bad dam management in the past has been one of a major reason for flooding in the area.

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Footnotes
1
Chaitanya Mallapur, ‘India Accounts for a Fifth of Global Deaths From Floods’, The Wire, 19 July 2018 (available at: https://​thewire.​in/​environment/​india-accounts-for-a-fifth-of-global-deaths-from-floods).
 
2
Kunal Kambli, ‘Top 5: Biggest Floods to Affect India in 2019’, The Weather Channel, 8 January 2020 (available at: https://​weather.​com/​en-IN/​india/​news/​news/​2020-01-08-top-5-biggest-floods-affect-india-2019).
 
3
Here’s why cyclones hit eastern coast of India’, Deccan Herald, 29 April 2019 (available at: https://​www.​deccanherald.​com/​specials/​heres-why-cyclones-hit-eastern-coast-of-india-731266.​html).
 
4
Cyclones and their impact in India’, National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP).
 
5
Basudha Das, ‘Cyclone Ockhi wreaks havoc on western coast: How India manages its disasters’, Business Today, 5 December 2017 (available at: https://​www.​businesstoday.​in/​current/​economy-politics/​cyclone-ockhi-wreaks-havoc-on-western-coast-how-india-manages-its-disasters/​story/​265335.​html).
 
6
Alan Tylor, ‘Devastating Monsoon Floods in Kerala, India’, The Atlantic, 22 August 2018 (available at: https://​www.​theatlantic.​com/​photo/​2018/​08/​devastating-monsoon-floods-in-kerala-india/​568171/​).
 
7
Ibid.
 
8
Western Ghats, UNESCO World Heritage Centre (available at: https://​whc.​unesco.​org/​en/​list/​1342/​).
 
9
Most of the floods occur during the monsoon season.
 
10
Kerala floods: Man-made or nature’s fury?’ The Hindu Business Line, 23 August 2018 (available at: https://​www.​thehindubusiness​line.​com/​opinion/​kerala-floods-man-made-or-natures-fury/​article24762090.​ece).
 
11
Ibid.
 
12
Rebuild Kerala Development Programme’ A Resilient Recovery Policy Framework and Action Plan for Shaping Kerala’s Resilient, Risk Informed Development and Recovery from 2018 Floods (available at: https://​sdma.​kerala.​gov.​in/​wp-content/​uploads/​2020/​08/​RKDP-Plan-report.​pdf).
 
Literature
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Metadata
Title
Recent Disasters in Kerala: Evidences from the Field
Author
Varnav Somwal
Copyright Year
2024
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-50113-5_4