India

Data | Bengaluru flood woes are a recent phenomenon

Karnataka’s share in India’s flood-related deaths surged to 7-8% in the last two decades

Karnataka’s share in India’s flood-related deaths surged to 7-8% in the last two decades

Heavy rainfall during the last week of August and first week of September brought Bengaluru to a standstill. Flooding of offices and houses, traffic bottlenecks and power outages were recorded across the Silicon Valley of India. On August 27, the Bengaluru-Mysuru Highway was inundated with flood water after the Inorapalya lake breached the banks. Three days later, the outer ring road was flooded as water from Savalakere lake overflowed.

While the Bengaluru floods made headlines in recent days, the monsoon season has claimed many lives and damaged several public and private properties across the State this year. As many as 96 lives were lost since June, crops in 5.8 lakh hectares of land were lost, 1,471 bridges and 2,223 km of roads were damaged. In total, the estimated losses amounted to ₹7,647 crore.

A recent phenomenon

In the last two decades, the number of lives lost to floods have sharply increased in the State. In the last decade (2011-20) and the one before (2001-10), Karnataka’s share in India’s flood-related deaths ranged between 7-8%. In the 2000s, the State had the fourth highest share of flood-related deaths among major States. In the last decade, it had the seventh-highest share.  

In contrast, in the decades before 2000s, Karnataka’s share was negligible. The State’s share in India’s flood-related deaths ranged between 0-3% in all the previous decades. Table 1lists a State’s share in India’s total deaths due to flood in each decade. For instance, Gujarat formed 10% of the total fatalities in the 2001-10 period, and 8% in the last decade (2011-20).

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Across all decades, Uttar Pradesh’s share has consistently been 17% or above. West Bengal, Gujarat and Bihar also accounted for a high share in India’s flood-related fatalities in most decades.

The above trends have to be read with caution, given the wide variation in States’ population. Also the numbers were for undivided Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

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Unique pattern

Table 2 lists the decadal share of a State’s total flood-related deaths in the 1953-2020 period. For instance, of all the deaths due to floods recorded in Karnataka in the period, 34% occurred in the last decade, while 39% happened in the decade before that. Similar to the trend observed in Table 1, Karnataka’s flood-related fatalities were significantly lower in the decades before the 2000s.

Infact, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Karnataka’s share in India’s fatalities as shown in table 1 and the decadal share in State’s overall deaths as shown in table 2, were either barely present or non-existent. This reiterates the fact that Karnataka’s troubles related to floods are a recent phenomenon.

Outliers 

In 1977, 11,316 lives were lost to floods — the most for any given year — of which 9,974 were lost in Andhra Pradesh. Floods damaged 39.6 lakh houses in India in 2015 — the highest number of houses destroyed due to floods in any year between 1953 and 2020.

The charts show the number of human lives lost, cattle lost and houses damaged due to floods in India each year. The highest number of flood-related deaths was recorded in 1977 (11,316), of which 9,974 lives were lost in Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu accounted for 30.1 lakh of the 39.1 lakh houses damaged in 2015 — the highest number recorded in a year.

(With inputs from Bengaluru Bureau)

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Source: Centre Water Commission

Also read | Data Point | Looking back at three devastating floods in India


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