An estimated 722 people have been killed across 133 districts of 10 states in the ongoing rainy season as excessive rain pounded vast swathes of peninsular India, following the devastation caused earlier in Assam and parts of Eastern India in July.
These estimates are preliminary as rescue teams are struggling to reach remote areas. Over 159 teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) have been deployed while 16 columns of the Army are moving in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Besides these states, there is imminent danger of widespread flooding in districts along the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh, as the river is flowing at the danger mark in several places. Sardar Sarovar Dam’s sluice gates have been opened for the first time as the water level reached the all-time high of 131.5 meters on August 9. Twenty-two of the 30 sluice gates are releasing 96,000 cusecs of water to control the precarious situation. The permissible water storage level at the dam is 131.1 metres.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted more heavy rains in the coming days across the whole of peninsular India. According to IMD estimates, rainfall excess in the first week of August in various states is: Gujarat (excluding Saurashtra and Kutch) 180%; Konkan and Goa – 216%; Madhya Maharashtra – 318%; North interior Karnataka – 233%; South interior Karnataka 113%; Coastal Karnataka 84%; Telangana 148%; Coastal AP 99%; and Marathwada 36%.
Red Alert has been issued by the Central Water Commission for rivers Dudhganga/Sadalga in Belgaum (Karnataka); Krishna/Kurundwad in Kolhapur (Mah.); Krishna/ Arjunwad at Sangli (Mah.); and Warna/Samodli in Sangli (Mah). A red alert means these rivers are flowing above the highest ever recorded level.
Orange Alert has been issued by the Central Water Commission for rivers in several states: Assam (rivers Jiabharali, Dhansiri (South) and Brahmaputra); Bihar (rivers Bagmati and Kosi); Chhattisgarh (river Indravathi); Odisha (river Vamsadhara); and Uttar Pradesh (river Ghagra). An orange alert means that the rivers are flowing above danger mark but still below the Highest Flood Level (HFL).
An estimated 7.3 lakh people are staying in over 2000 relief camps across the affected states. Thousands more are surviving outside in marooned villages and high points near villages.
Although crop loss estimates are not yet complete in most states, indications are that nearly 10 lakh hectares of growing crops will be destroyed by surging waters in this season. Thousands of cattle and other animals too have perished in the waters, or facing starvation.