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Floods galore in 14 years: 'Calamity coming' no more, it's already there in Karnataka

Karnataka lost 248 lives and 2.18 lakh houses due to floods between 2018 and 2021.
Last Updated : 26 June 2023, 15:04 IST
Last Updated : 26 June 2023, 15:04 IST
Last Updated : 26 June 2023, 15:04 IST
Last Updated : 26 June 2023, 15:04 IST

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Over the last 14 years, the Malnad, coastal regions and the four major river basins of the state have witnessed floods in nine years and landslides in 13 years, resulting in huge loss to life and property.

According to Karnataka State Flood Risk Management Action Plan 2022, between 2018 and 2021, the state lost 248 lives and 2.18 lakh houses were damaged (partially or severely) due to floods.

The state has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 78,575 crore in these three years alone, due to crop loss, cattle deaths and damages to roads, bridges, tanks, government buildings and other structures.

This apart, 80 per cent of the state’s geographical area was affected by drought for 15 of the last 22 years.

The excess rain that lashed the state in 2022 resulted in all 31 districts suffering from floods.

The last non-flood year in the state was 2017. In 2021, as many as 28 districts witnessed floods, followed by 2020, which saw 25 districts, and 2019, which saw 23 districts, affected by floods. In terms of landslides, the last non-landslide year was 2010.

The year 2018 witnessed the highest number of landslides (7), followed by 2020 (6), both 2019 and 2021 saw five landslides, while the 2022 monsoon saw four landslides.

Kodagu and Uttara Kannada districts have reported landslides in 10 of the last 14 years.

Shivamogga and Chikkamagaluru saw seven landslide years between 2009 and 2022.

As many as 28 taluks in Kodagu, Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, Chikkamagaluru, Udupi, Shivamogga, and Hassan have been identified as landslide-prone areas in the state.

The Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) has identified 1,725 villages in the Krishna, Kaveri, Godavari and the west flowing river basins as flood prone.

Dr Keshav H Korse, member of the landslide study committee that submitted the ‘Landslides in Western Ghats and Coastal Karnataka: Prevention and Mitigation Strategies’ report to the government in 2021, blames unscientific construction-oriented development works that are being undertaken across the Western Ghats and coastal areas as major reasons for flooding, landslides and landslips.

“Our report has made little impact as governments continue to give permission to cutting of hills vertically for roads, mining, railways and other development works.

There is also large-scale felling of trees in ecologically vulnerable areas, by forest department as well as by farmers for cultivation.

Moreover, the government has not yet been able to come out with robust and time-bound restoration works at sites where already landslides are happening.

“It is resulting in re-occurrence of landslides in the same areas,” he said.

Sandesh Aiyappa, a coffee grower in Virajpet, said despite repeated opposition to development works, unabated cutting of hills is taking place, resulting in clogging of the drainage systems and loosening of land.

Last year, he suffered crop loss due to a landslip in his coffee estate.

Chikkamagaluru deputy commissioner K N Ramesh said they have identified 137 landslide-prone areas in the district.

The district disaster management committee, which consists of officials from various departments, has learnt from the data collected over the last 14 years and chalked out plans.

A total of 77 villages in 47 gram panchayats (with a population of nearly 4,000) need to be under vigil during excess rain for landslides and floods. The administration has taken all necessary measures to address any calamity, he said.

Kodagu deputy commissioner Satheesha B C said they have identified 42 landslide-prone areas and notices have been served to those who could be affected by the landslides.

“With the help of Apthamitras (volunteers), we will take up rescue work. We have placed earth-moving machines and other rescue materials at strategic locations to press into action in times of need,” he said.

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Published 25 June 2023, 17:17 IST

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