Come monsoon and two things are guaranteed: floods and water-borne diseases. Be it India’s east or west, north or south, flood waters inundate vast farmlands, submerge houses, and kill humans, livestock and wild animals. And let us not even mention those who are rendered homeless; there are hundreds of thousands.
Reports say that flood waters have already killed around 600 people across India, with Gujarat reportedly witnessing deaths of 120 people alone. Flood waters are currently ravaging parts of Rajasthan, West Bengal and Odisha.
MoS Home Kiren Rijiju reportedly said that 63,215 houses and huts have been damaged and about 2.8 lakh hectare of crop have been affected due to rains, floods and landslides.
In the middle of July, flood waters wreaked havoc in northeast killing at least 85 people besides causing the deaths of a number of wild animals in the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the region.
Reports state that 5,00,000 people have been rendered homeless as a result of the floods in northeast. The number of people affected by the floods stands in millions.
In West Bengal, the rising waters of the Damodar has resulted in the flooding of low-lying areas in in Burdwan, Hooghly, Howrah and Midnapore districts. In all, 160 villages in Bengal are under water which has left around 2 million people homeless. Around 12 people have died in the state.
But while the flood situation in West Bengal and northeast improves, Gujarat continues to face the wrath of the waters. Heavy rains continue to lash parts of the state, including capital city of Gandhinagar. Such has been the fury that parts of a railway track got washed away crippling railway connectivity in the western region.
In neighboring Rajasthan, 12 people have lost their lives to flood.
Rajasthan: Army rescued 6 people in flood hit Sayala Village in Jalore district pic.twitter.com/9xdu7Ngmbp
— ANI (@ANI_news) July 25, 2017
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) July 28, 2017
Rains have also lashed parts of southwestern Uttar Pradesh. In Varanasi, heavy rains coupled with the poor drainage system resulted in water-logging in most parts of the city. Though the situation was far from flood-like, the people of the city had to wade through waist-deep waters in many areas.
Help comes from armed forces and organizations
If not for the round-the-clock rescue and relief efforts of the armed forces and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the situation would have been even worse.
Army personnel rescued 1,925 people in Gujarat. The Army says that it has deployed assault boats to rescue more stranded people. First aid is being provided by 28 army medical and veterinary teams.
The Air Force and the Navy, too, have deployed their own relief and rescue missions in Gujarat and elsewhere.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) July 29, 2017
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) July 25, 2017
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) July 24, 2017
Some pics of relief Operations in flood hit Gujarat pic.twitter.com/UZI350ZO4A
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) July 27, 2017
The NDRF has shifted around 10000 people, including 2500 in Gandhinagar district alone, to safer places.
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) July 28, 2017
Operation at village area Dhansa,teh sayla,district jalore Rajasthan. pic.twitter.com/5LWXTYgeMA
— NDRF (@NDRFHQ) July 25, 2017
In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday sought help from the armed forces three days after the state was struck by flood.
The Indian Air Force immediately came to the rescue with choppers. Many stranded people were evacuated to safer areas by IAF helicopters. The IAF has also been working relentlessly in Gujarat.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) July 29, 2017
Other organizations, too, carried on flood rescue and relief efforts alongside the armed forces and NDRF. In West Bengal, in particular, the organizations helped people before the state government called in the armed forces.
RSS Swayamsevaks joined in rescue works and Flood Releif activities at Kanksha Block of Asansol, Paschim Bardhaman District, West Bengal. pic.twitter.com/arjxn4v5nB
— Rajesh Padmar (@rajeshpadmar) July 28, 2017
— Anupam Pandey (@AnupamkPandey) July 27, 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already announced a relief package worth Rs.500 crore for Gujarat. The Opposition criticized him for announcing a package for his home state and not for others.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 25, 2017
Yet Kiren Rijiju told PTI, “The Government of India cannot be biased in its approach and its intent. It is very clear.”
He said that the funds granted to Gujarat was part of State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) due to the state and not from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). He said that states have funds of their own to tackle such disasters and that the Center steps in only after the state’s funds are exhausted.
Why the floods?
According to Skymet Weather, the rise in the level of rivers has been because of torrential rains in the regions caused by two different weather systems.
One of the systems developed in South Rajasthan and Gujarat while the other developed over Gangetic West Bengal and Jharkhand.
— Pankaj Kumar, IAS (@pkumarias) July 29, 2017
Between July 21 and 25, parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha witnessed very heavy rains. And south Rajasthan and Gujarat have been hit by two other systems – one originating in southwest Uttar Pradesh and another in western Odisha.
According to Skymet Weather, the flood situation in Gujarat is likely to remain grim.
While weather reports point at disturbances, Mamata Banerjee used this as another opportunity to slam the Center. She told the media that the flood situation in Bengal was a result of both rains and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) releasing water.
According to TOI, Mamata has demanded that the Centre “revamps” the DVC and start dredging work Farraka barrage and ports of West Bengal.
In its defense, the DVC said that if the water had not been released, it would have led to the collapse of the Panchet dam. According to the report, the decision was taken by the Damodar Valley River Corporation has a representative of the state government.