Wednesday 29 March 2023 \


1,500 villages under water in North India

A lack of rain earlier in the June-September monsoon season had led to fears of drought, but this month all that has changed.

Source : Gulf-Times / 19 Aug 2014 

Floods triggered by heavy rains in the Himalayas have inundated nearly 1,500 villages in northern India, killing at least 28 people and leaving thousands homeless, officials said yesterday.

Thousands were marooned in villages across nine districts of Uttar Pradesh, where the release of water from overflowing dams in neighbouring Nepal has added to the impact of the downpours.

A lack of rain earlier in the June-September monsoon season had led to fears of drought, but this month all that has changed.

The latest heavy rains have caused landslides and floods in many parts of India and Nepal, where at least 90 people have been killed since Thursday

At least 12 people were swept away by torrents in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh, officials said. Another six perished when their boat capsized in the swollen Rapti river.

“The flood situation arose following heavy downpours in Nepal, which led to overflowing rivers which originate in the Himalayan region including Tibet and Nepal,” said Alok Ranjan, chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh.

More rain is forecast in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Uttarakhand in the Himalayas, resulting in new flood warnings.

Three army helicopters were deployed to drop food and water to the people marooned in shelters.

“The state is well equipped with both manpower and resources to meet the current crises and we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the affected people receive prompt relief,” Ranjan said.

Earlier there had been concern the slow start to the monsoon would trim cane output in the world’s second-biggest sugar-producing nation.

Now the floods in Uttar Pradesh have raised fears of damage to the cane crop, as 0.6mn hectares of arable lands have been submerged.

“Sugarcane is at high risk due to floods as waterlogging can damage the crop,” Sudhir Panwar, president of the farmers’ body Kisan Jagriti Manch said by phone from Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh.

According to the Indian Sugar Mills Association, sugar output could rise 4% to 25.3mn tonnes in 2014/15, because of higher cane yields in the other major producing states of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

In the northeastern Assam, flood waters from the Brahmaputra entered the state’s Kaziranga national park, inundating almost 80% of its 858sq km area.

The park is famous for its one-horned rhinos. It is divided into five ranges - Kohora, Bagori, Agratoli, Burha Pahar and the northern forest range.

“As of now, almost all the low-lying areas of the park are under water,” said park director M K Yadav.

“The annual flood is a welcome event every year as unwanted weeds are washed away. This is vital for the ecosystem of the park,” he said.

“It is a matter of worry only when there is high flood when some animals stray outside the park while searching for higher grounds.

“The water levels are stable as of now and it is expected to recede after three to four days,” he said.

The park authorities have strengthened security as poachers take advantage of the flood to kill animals, particularly the rhinos.

“During the floods, the animals, particularly one-horned rhinos, stray outside the park. The rhinos and other animals normally go towards the Karbi Anglong Hills looking for higher grounds.

“It is very difficult to track these animals and it becomes easy for the poachers to kill the rhinos,” said another official.

“We have intensified patrolling and put everyone on high alert. Deployment of forest guards have also increased inside the park,” he said.

The authorities had earlier repaired the natural highlands and created artificial highlands in the park for the animals to take shelter during flooding.


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