Heavy rainfall and associated water-logging and flooding events in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have only served to highlight the fact that a more risk-conscious land use planning is becoming a sine qua non for sustainable development.
The South-Eastern coast of India has been facing heavy rainfall over the last month owing to the formation of low-pressure areas and cyclonic circulations attributed mainly to the North-East monsoon, points out consultancy RMSI in a note.
Rains wreak havoc
The rains accompanied by lightning and thunderstorms have been wreaking havoc in these States bringing above average rainfall so far during the season, with another month left.
According to Pushpendra Johari, Senior Vice-President, Sustainability, RMSI, at least 2,500 huts and houses suffered minor to moderate damage in the November floods. The cost of repairs could alone range from ₹10-₹15 crore. “An estimated 2.5 lakh hectares of agricultural crops have been impacted and about 21,000 hectares of horticulture damaged leading to an estimated combined losses of ₹1,500 crore-₹2,000 crore for both the States,” Johari told BusinessLine .
Holistic approach needed
Speaking specifically about Andhra Pradesh, RMSI felt that the State government has been actively involved in rescue and relief operations. However, a more holistic approach to tackling these events is a necessity.
“Due stress should be laid on prevention rather than just on post-disaster response. On close observation, the villages lying in the downstream regions of reservoirs have faced the brunt of many of these weather events. A better reservoir management mechanism integrating early warning systems would reduce the impact to a great level,” Johari said.
Floods, water-logging in AP
Intense rainfall over last weekend has led to floods and water-logging in many parts of Southern Andhra Pradesh, washing away villages, breaching dams, blocking railways and roadways, and causing heavy losses to life and property.
Flash floods and riverine floods, besides water-logging, have been a common phenomenon. Heavy showers caused flash floods in the four Rayalaseema districts, namely, Chittoor, Kurnool, Kadapa and Anantapur. Over 30 people have lost their lives and around 100 people have been washed away.
Rail and road connectivity was disrupted to a great extent leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded, and trains were diverted or cancelled. Kadapa district reported a death toll of 13, being the highest among the other districts affected.
Release from Annamayya project
Three buses of the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation were stuck in floods in Mandpalle, Akepadu and Nandaluru villages in Kadapa district. On November 19, an estimated two lakh cusecs of flood water had flowed out of the Annamayya project leaving a trail of destruction in the villages downstream falling under the Rajampet constituency.
In Kadiri, Anantapuram district, a building collapsed over anther killing seven. In Chittoor, four were killed in rain related incidents. In Nellore, a constable deputed to the State Disaster Response Force at Vizianagaram drowned while carrying out a rescue operation in Damaramadugu village.
IAF rescue mission
In neighbouring Anantapuramu, 10 people stranded in the flooding of the Chitravati River at Veldurthi village were rescued by the Indian Air Force personnel, who specially flew in from the Yelahanka Station in Karnataka. They carried out a winching operation using a Mi-17 helicopter after the ten got stuck in an earth mover vehicle which itself had been called for rescue operations.
The Andhra Pradesh government estimates that around 1,500 houses valued at over ₹5 crore were damaged. Another 488 remained marooned. The road bridge across the Papaghni, connecting Kadapa and Tadipatri towns had collapsed.
In Tirupati, the 500-year-old Rayalacheruvu tank developed minor breaches, following which evacuation warning was issued. In Nellore, majority of the loss was attributed to release of over two lakh cusecs of water from the Somasila reservoir.
Livestock suffers damage
Livestock suffered a huge damage in various districts. Over 600 cattle were killed as were 3,232 chickens. At least 1,800 small cattle such as sheep and goat perished, causing a total loss of over ₹2.31 crore. Agricultural crops covering two lakh hectares and horticultural crops over 20,000 hectares were damaged.
Roads in these districts are heavily damaged and communication links remained cut. Many culverts, causeways and bridges suffered extensive damage due to the flash floods. A total of 243 relief camps were opened in the four districts in Rayalaseema. At least 20,923 persons evacuated from flood-hit areas were moved to safe places.
The IAF, NDRF, SDRF, the police and fire services personnel saved over 60 people from flash floods. The AP Transco is engaged in the work of restoring the 132 kv sub-stations and ensuring power supply in flood-hit districts. The government had announced ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh each to families of those killed due to floods.