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Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Biodiversity in the time of deluge

As it weathers repeated floods, Kerala needs to take steps to protect its fragile ecology. People fail to account for the damage done to natural ecosystems while estimating losses suffered due to natural disasters.
By IASToppers
August 16, 2019

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Impact of the Flood
  • Cause of such floods similar to Kerala
  • Impact of Climate Change
  • Construction as a cause of Flood in Kerala
  • Conclusion
  • IT’s Input

Biodiversity in the time of deluge

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Introduction

kerala floods zone iastoppers

  • In mid-August 2018, Kerala experienced severe floods and is still struggling to deal with their devastating impact.
  • However, Kerala is facing similar situation in 2019 monsoon which shows human-induced natural imbalance in the State.

Impact of the Flood

  • It most impacts the poorest people of the society, causing a loss of lives, livelihood options and assets.
  • They also place an enormous burden on the government in terms of reconstruction budgets.
  • Floods also wash away top soil and substantial biodiversity of the area, resulting in a reduced river-water flow, death of earthworms and spread of viral and bacterial diseases among crops.

Cause of floods

Kerala-Flood-Relief-iastoppers1

  • The root cause of such floods, not only in Kerala but elsewhere, is the high precipitation levels.
  • However, other factors are of anthropogenic factors like unscientific construction practices and over-exploitation of nature.

Impact of Climate Change

ipcc_altlogo iastoppers

  • As per an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the Global Green House Gases emissions grew by 70% between 1970 and 2004.
  • Global warming has had critical effects on the hydrological cycle and water is the primary medium through which the climate change affects the people.
  • The changing precipitation alters the hydrological systems, resulting in floods and droughts in different regions.

Construction as a cause of Flood in Kerala

Construction-as-a-cause-of-Flood-in-Kerala1

  • While services (63.1%) and industry (25.6%) sectors dominate Kerala’s economy, agriculture is becoming insignificant (11.3% of State GDP).
  • Due to high population density (860 persons per sq. km, Indian average is 382), the shift from a joint family system to a single-family one and a greater inflow of money, has resulted in an increased construction of luxurious houses and resorts.
  • The government has also been developing extensive infrastructure to support the industry sectors.
  • In Kerala, people bought land from farmers over the decades not for cultivation but for construction.
  • If this trend continues, vast tracts of paddy fields and other low-lying places will get converted to plots or buildings, impacting the Kerala’s ability to handle floods.

Suggestion:

  • It is important to take the appropriate decision on the type and size of the structure, its location, materials it proposes to use, and permissible damages it will cause to the nature.
  • The government should not replicate the super luxurious construction model of Gulf countries in Kerala’s fragile and ecologically sensitive landscapes.

Conclusion

  • With the certainty that climate change is already impacting most countries, there is no option but to take adequate precautions through dam management and timely public alerts.
  • There is, at present, a lack of clarity on how best natural assets could be restored.
  • A broader assessment of floods from a sustainable development perspective, by limiting economic growth options within the carrying capacity of the ecosystem, is the need of the hour.

IT’s Input

For More information on ‘Floods in India: Lessons to learn’, refer IASToppers Mains Article. Click here:

 

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