The south-west monsoon is wreaking havoc across the country and the number of rain-related deaths, particularly in the north and west of India, is on the rise. A Home Ministry data says, since June this year, 624 people have reportedly died due to incidents related to rain fury.
Surprisingly Gujarat leads the fatality list with 103 deaths so far, ahead of Himachal Pradesh (99 deaths), despite catastrophic rains in the hill state this year. Explaining this, a state government disaster management official said there were no major road accidents during rains this year because of a better alert system on landslides and rain fury started after the peak tourist season, which ended by June 30. However, property damage this year in Himachal was almost five times of 2022, data shows.
Meanwhile, more people dying in Gujarat (103) than Himachal, can be attributed to cyclone Biparjoy in June and related heavy rainfall later in the coastal state. The other deaths were reported in Karnataka (87) and Rajasthan (36), according to the ministry data. Several areas in Punjab (11 deaths) and Haryana (19 deaths) still remain flooded.
However, the number of fatalities this year are lower as compared to last year, probably because of a 32 per cent deficit in rainfall compared to the same period last year, primarily on account of lesser rains in central and eastern India.
In 2022, 193 people died in Assam compared to 38 this southwest monsoon season. In 2022, 89 people died in Meghalaya and Manipur because of heavy rains compared to eight this year. Both these northeastern states have recorded deficient rainfall in the 2023 monsoon season. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra together reported 187 deaths in 2022 as compared to 92 this year till June 15. Even in Himachal Pradesh, last year 187 people died in the monsoon season, which is almost twice this year’s figures. In Gujarat too 119 people had died in 2022 in the June-July period.
Damage to homes has also been less this year than in 2022 because of lower rains in the plains of India, the report suggested.
Monsoon rains are becoming more and more erratic with every passing year. Various studies have pointed towards an increase in extreme weather events in the past two decades. In 2013, thousands perished in Kedarnath (Uttarakhand) because of extreme rainfall. There has been at least one major extreme rainfall event in the country every year since the last 10 years, according to a study.