With incessant monsoon rains, wreaking havoc parts of India, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states are reeling under floods over the past few days. The country has received highest ever rainfall recorded in last 25 years, and Mumbai has broken 61-year record. The Indian Meteorological Society (IMS), a non-profit organization, said the ongoing deluge will ensure this September will be the wettest in over a century.

The extended southwest monsoon has not only caused devastation in several places in India, but has also broken a number of records and set new ones.

The highest number of deaths 111 were reported from Uttar Pradesh, while 29 were from Bihar since last week.

Highest rainfall since 1994

India recorded its highest rainfall this Monsoon since 1994, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said classifying it “above normal” as the season officially ended on Monday.

However, rain-bearing winds still remain active over several parts of the country.

Mumbai

In Maharashtra, the monsoon has brought copious rains with its late onslaught. Mumbai has received 3,669.6 mm rainfall so far this season – the highest in 61 years – as against its normal quota of 2,350 mm.

The MeT department has predicted rain and thunder showers at many places in eastern Uttar Pradesh and heavy rain at isolated places over the western region on October 1.

In Ballia of Uttar Pradesh, authorities had to shift about 900 prisoners to other jails after flood waters entered the barracks of the district jail located near the Ganga River.

Incessant rainfall in Bihar has badly hit normal life with almost all areas of the capital city Patna under knee-deep water and people struggling to meet their daily needs.

Videos shared on social media show submerged roads and heavy flooding at one of the major hospitals in Patna, state capital of Bihar, where patients lay on beds just inches above dirty water. Schools and offices are closed in many areas, and electricity supplies for some residents cut to one hour a day to prevent accidents.

Railway traffic, vehicular movement, healthcare services, schools and power supply have been disrupted in both states, officials said.

Gujarat

It has also been raining heavily in southern India and in the western state of Gujarat.

In Gujarat, three women drowned after their car was swept away at a flooded causeway in Rajkot district on Sunday following heavy rains in several parts of Saurashtra region.

At least 13 deaths were reported from Uttarkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan in incidents triggered by heavy rains.

Kolkata

In Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal state, several streets were waterlogged due to heavy rains.

Experts blame a lack of urban planning and poor drainage systems, which have been unable to cope with sudden and incessant rains over recent days.

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Experts believe such extreme weather events are intensifying due to climate crisis, and that India will suffer heavier and more erratic rainfall with more frequent floods in the coming years.

An extended monsoon 

The monsoon, which accounts for around 75 per cent of annual rainfall, usually lasts between June and September, but this year is predicted to last until mid-October.

Its start was also delayed this year, with June rainfall 33 per cent below the long-term average, according to the IMS. This contributed to drought in the state of Maharashtra with 20,000 villages reporting a severe drinking water crisis.

Rainfall received so far is 10 per cent more than the normal, which is highest in the last 25 years, an IMD official said. The withdrawal of southwest monsoon has been delayed by a month, the official said.

“Normal withdrawal of southwest monsoon begins by September 1 in Rajasthan and other northern parts of India. This year, the Hikka cyclone has so far brought more showers and southwest monsoon is still here,” he added.

Much of India was lashed by excessive rainfall from July onwards, causing floods in several areas. Over 160 people died in Kerala and Karnataka in August, with deaths also recorded in Odisha and Assam.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development predicts monsoon rainfall will increase by 25 per cent over the next 100 years.

“A study by the Council of Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) shows in India mean precipitation is likely to increase in future,” said Dr Hem Dholakia, a senior research associate at CEEW. “Climate change will also make rainfall more erratic with longer dry spells and a higher risk of floods.”

Urban sprawl and poor city planning

“Deforestation, the absence of drainage systems and the flagrant violations of building norms in the entire state mean there has been a clear increase in water discharge,” said Anil Sood, the president of Spchetna, an NGO studying the effects of climate change in India.

Monsoon rains to boost winter crops

A Reuters report said:

Extra June-September monsoon rainfall will help farmers expand areas under winter-sown crops such as wheat, rice rapeseed and chickpeas, improving their earning potential and helping revive tepid rural demand that has stung Indian economic growth.

The longer monsoon could also restock reservoirs and help replenish ground water, helping assuage water shortages in pockets of the country of 1.3 billion people.

But heavy rainfall in some areas has damaged summer-sown crops like cotton, soybean and pulses that are close to harvest.

The monsoon delivers about 70% of India’s annual rainfall and determines the yield of rice, wheat, sugarcane and oilseeds, such as soybeans.

Farming accounts for about 15% of India’s $2.5 trillion economy but employs more than half of its people.

“Even in the first half of October, above average rainfall is expected due to a delay in the withdrawal of the monsoon,” said an official with the India Meteorological Department (IMD), declining to be named as he was not authorized to speak with media.

The monsoon generally begins in June and starts to retreat by Sept. 1, but rains have lasted longer this year, triggering fatal floods and killing hundreds of people.

The 2019 monsoon season got off to a bleak start with the driest June in five years and below-average precipitation in July, suggesting an initial prediction for lower than normal rainfall from the country’s only private forecaster, Skymet, could come to pass.

The weather department had also said in May that rains this year would amount to 96% of the long-term average.

But August saw heavy rains and flooding in some states and the strong monsoon has stretched into this month.

Water levels in India’s main reservoirs were at 89% of their storage capacity as on Sept. 27 against 74% a year earlier, government data shows. The average for the past 10 years is 72%.


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