The Cognizant Citizen: The Karnataka Floods

In August this year, Karnataka received heavy rainfall accompanied by thunderstorms, which caused landslides and floods. The second wave of the Southwest monsoon caused the Cauvery river to overflow, which led to its floodwaters inundated the Bhagamandala temple, and road services were disrupted. Twenty people lost their lives, and thousands more were displaced. Ten-thousand homes were destroyed. 4.03 lakh hectares of crops were damaged, and 14,182 km of roads were left wrecked.
130 taluks and 23 districts were declared flood-affected. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa informed the central team that visited the state to assess the damage that Karnataka had suffered a loss of ₹ 8,071 crores during the floods.

Alerts Issued

While the state has yet to recover from the damage of last month’s incessant rainfall and relief work is still underway, another bout of heavy rain came its way. An alert for heavy rain was issued by the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) for Malnad, coastal regions, and a few interior and northern districts for a few days.
Udupi, Uttara Kannada, and Dakshina Kannada districts were expected to receive heavy rainfall from 20-22nd September. A red alert was issued for Udupi and Dakshina Kannada for two days and a yellow alert for 23rd September.
The India Meteorological Department predicted the possibility of extremely high rainfall exceeding 204.5mm per day along with thundershowers in these districts.

Damage Caused

Due to the heavy rainfall, rivers in the Western Ghats were in spate. Bridges in Karkala taluk in Udupi district were washed away. Over eleven-hundred homes were flooded, and 24 houses damaged. Minister for Fisheries, Ports, Inland Transport, and Endowment Kota Srinivasa Poojary informed The Hindu about the capsizing of 3 fishing boats in the Malpe area in the Udupi district. The 12 fishermen on board those boats were able to swim to safety. 2 more boats were damaged in the same area. The nearby Shambhavi river also flooded the area surrounding the Bappanadu Durgaparameshwari temple in Mulki.

The Indrani rivulet in Kalsanka in Udupi overflowed, entering the Udupi-Manipal highway. National Highway 66 in Padubidri was waterlogged due to a lack of a proper drainage system. With the highway expansion underway, the inner side of the road is low laying, which increased the flooding and contributed to traffic jams. The potholes in the road only worsened the situation.

There was a landslide on Adyapadi Road near Mangaluru International Airport in Kenjar village, a little outside of Mangaluru. Two houses were damaged, and two residents who were injured have been shifted to a hospital. The movement of traffic between the city and the airport was unaffected. There was also a landslip on the bypass railway line between the Konkan Railway network and the South Western Railway network near Padil in Mangaluru.

Rescue Effort

According to KSNDMC, 64.5mm of rainfall was recorded as of 8:30 am on Sunday in coastal areas. As the water levels in the rivers rosed, people from low lying areas were evacuated. Since evacuation in the night is risky, twenty-five hundred people were shifted to safer areas on Sunday morning as rainwater started entering houses and submerging vehicles.

The State Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai directed Udupi district authorities to send in a 250-member team of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel for the rescue operation on Sunday. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was also called in to assist.

31 relief camps were opened across the state where over twelve-hundred people were given food and shelter. More than twenty-eight hundred people from Udupi, Kapu, Brahmavar and Karkala talukas were shifted. Three hundred cattle from Puthige Mutt near Hiriyadka were evacuated as the flooding increased. The Baje dam that provides Udupi City with water was flooded, and water pumping was stopped. Staff working at the dam were also evacuated.

MLA Raghupathi Bhat, Deputy Commissioner G Jagadeesh, Additional DC Sadashiva Prabhu, personally overlooked the rescue operation. Deputy Commissioner Jagadeesh urged people living on or near river banks and islands to shift to higher areas immediately.
The State also spoke with the Revenue Minister R. Ashoka regarding the requestioning of a helicopter of the Air Force for rescue work. A Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority official said that a helicopter was on standby to carry out rescue operations.

By Monday morning, the water started receding in many affected areas, and people were allowed to return to their homes. The timely rescue and evacuation carried out by both the central and state agencies prevented a high casualty rate and minimised the loss of human life. Incidents such as these remind us of the importance of having a disaster management plan in place. It is imperative for agencies to know which protocols and measures to follow in order to carry out an efficient and coordinated rescue mission.

As the people of Karnataka try and rebuild their lives and their homes, which were lost on the floods, let us do our part to ease their path to normalcy.

Written by Cynthia Maria Dsouza for MTTN
Edited by Radhika Taneja for MTTN
Featured image by Radha Bhat K S for MTTN
Image source: KSNDMC, and

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