Floods · Ganga

The Everydayness of Flood: Experiences from Bhagalpur-Bihar

Guest Blog by Dr. Ruchi Shree (TMBU, Bhagalpur-Bihar)

On the banks of river Ganga in north India, Bhagalpur is a district of South-east Bihar. This district is famous for production of silk and thus Bhagalpur is also called ‘silk city’. Due to its proximity to Ganga, it is a flood prone region of Bihar and the usual trend of flood is in alternate year with varying intensity. The wider impact of flood ranges from agricultural loss to disturbances in transportation (water on railway track to vanished roads and bridges) and health hazards to environmental impacts to name a few[i]. This essay has three objectives: first, to narrate the challenges and lessons from my first close encounter of flood, specifically Bhagalpur floods, second, to probe into major reasons of flood and third, to depict the post-flood scenario. To have seen myself in three roles namely flood observer, flood victim and flood survivor is what made me sense the everydayness of flood.  

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CWC - Central Water Commission · Dam Induced Flood Disaster · Ganga

Why are Patna & Bhagalpur facing unprecedented floods on India’s 75th independence day?

As India prepares to celebrate 75th Independence day on August 15, 2021, large parts of Bihar along the Ganga river, including Patna (flood water entered colonies near Ganga in Patna) and Bhagalpur are preparing to face unprecedented floods. In fact, Central Water Commission’s (CWC) flood monitoring site at Hathidah in Patna district crossed the HIGHEST FLOOD LEVEL (HFL) of 43.17 m at 0300 hours in early morning on Aug 13, 2021. The water level is already at 43.33 m at 1300 hrs on Aug 14. It is forecast to reach 43.45 m by 0800 on independence day still with rising trend. This is apparent from the CWC hydrograph of this site shown above.

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Monsoon · Rainfall

June July 2021 District Wise SW Monsoon Rainfall in India

In the just concluded month of July 2021, India received 266.1 mm rainfall, that is 6.73% below normal July rainfall of 285.3 mm, as per India Meteorological Department (IMD). This is in contrast with June 2021 rainfall, that was almost 11% surplus over Normal rainfall. Not only that surplus has been wiped out by the July 2021 deficit, the overall June July 2021 rainfall now is 449 mm, or about 0.7% below normal rainfall of 452.2 mm, as per IMD.

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Monsoon · Rainfall

June 2021: District wise rainfall in India’s SW Monsoon

In the just concluded June 2021, the first month of India’s South West 2021 monsoon, India received 182.9 mm rainfall, 10.96% or about 11% more than the normal June rainfall of 166.9 mm as per India Meteorological department. In June 2020, the rainfall was 196.9 mm, or about 18% above normal and in June 2019 it was 33% below normal.

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Bihar · Ganga · Water Access for the poor

Water on Wheels to Dying Fishes in Ganga River Basin in Bhagalpur

Guest Blog by Dr. Ruchi Shree (TMBU, Bhagalpur-Bihar)

Last year, I wrote three stories on dying Champa river in Bhagalpur and challenges/ prospects of its rejuvenation[i]. That exercise helped me in exploring the city through a river which used be an important waterbody in this region but now at the verge of extinction. Situated at the banks of river Ganga, the Bhagalpur city faces three to four major problems related to water and sanitation, namely, arsenic contaminated groundwater, falling water level, recurrent floods, open drainage, etc. This year, I pedaled (cycling) in the local vicinity to make sense of ‘piped water’ and its limitations in the city. One more concern was to document the growing ecological crisis in the university area as captured and reflected in this blog. This photo essay is based on my observations over a period of last three months in Nathnagar block of Bhagalpur (south-west part of the city). Bhagalpur, a “smart city” of south Bihar is close to Jharkhand. I visited the ward no. 13 and ward no.17 of the Nathnagar block to write this story. Two pictures (near Ganga) towards the end of the blog were taken in a different part of the city i.e. in Adampur area of Bhagalpur.

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Indian Meteorological Department · Rainfall

Pre Monsoon 2021 season – State Wise, District Wise Rainfall

In the just concluded pre monsoon season (March 1 to May 31, 2021) India received 155.2 mm rainfall, 18% above the normal rainfall of 131.7 mm as per the India Meteorological Department (IMD). This is similar to the case in 2020[i] when India received 158.5 mm or 20% above normal rainfall.

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Rainfall

District wise Winter 2021 Rainfall in India

In the just concluded Winter Season (Jan 1 2021 to Feb 28 2021), as per India Meteorological Department (IMD), India received 32% below Normal Rainfall. The Normal rainfall in this two-month season is supposed to be quite low at 40.8 mm, but the actual rainfall was just 27.8 mm, which means rainfall was less than 0.5 mm per day in the season. Out of this the Rainfall in January 2021 was 20.2 mm, 17% above the normal rainfall of 17.3 mm. So in February 2021, the rainfall was 7.6 mm, against the normal rainfall of 23.5 mm, so the February rainfall was 68% below normal!

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Rainfall

Post Monsoon 2020: State wise Rainfall

According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), during the just concluded Post Monsoon Rainfall for 2020, that included rainfall during Oct-Dec months, India received 124.6 mm rainfall, 0.64% above the normal rainfall of 123.8 mm during the period. As per IMD[i] definition, the rainfall was thus normal.

This three-month period from Oct 1, to Dec 31 includes the North East Monsoon that mainly affects parts of South India including Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Rayalseema, parts of Karnataka and Kerala. IMD declared on Jan 1, 2021 that the of NE Monsoon ended on Dec 31, 2020 with normal overall rainfall: TN had 6% above normal, Karnatak 13% above normal, Puducherry 32% above normal, Andhra Pradesh 33% above normal. However, Lakshadweep had 9% below normal and Kerala 26% below normal. This monsoon provides 48% of the annual rainfall of TN so it is most imp for that state.

The rainfall revived only towards the end of November, mainly due to two consecutive cyclones — Nivar and Burevi — both of which developed in the Bay of Bengal. While Cyclone Nivar crossed the coast close to Karaikal near Puducherry and brought heavy showers for the east and coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, Cyclone Burevi weakened before it reached land.

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Dam Induced Flood Disaster

Dam Floods & Embankment Breaches in South West Monsoon 2020

Improper operations of dams, disasters related to dams and hydro projects and breaching of embankments have been aggravating flood disasters during every monsoon. There have been several such incidents during South West Monsoon 2020, taking heavy toll on people and property which could have been avoided or impacts reduced in many cases with proper dam operations and proper maintenance of the embankments. This compilation attempts to put together all such instances when avoidable flood disasters were created by improper operation of dams and breaching of embankments in the south west monsoon 2020.

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP NB 26 Oct 2020: Why Floods is not big issue in Bihar elections?

Or may be it is a major issue at a number of places. Like in Kishanganj district along Mahananda river in North East Bihar, as the report here mentions. We hope it is. Since floods and how they are managed affect so fundamentally and in so many different ways so many people, it should be an election issue. Particularly when the incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is fighting to be voted in after being the Chief Minister of the state for 15 years since Nov 2005 (except brief ten month period in 2014-15).

15 years is long enough time to have been able to make at least some dent in flood management. On ground, the situation seems to have only gone worse. It was in this 15 year period that the unprecedented Kosi floods happened after the Kusaha breach in 2008. But the word unprecedented has been used for several more floods in these 15 years, including by Nitish Kumar. He also raised a number of pertinent issues in this period, including impact of Farakka barrage on Bihar floods, need for its decommissioning, Bihar’s right to get Ganga water from the headwaters in Uttarakhand [currently it gets none except during monsoon]. He is currently silent on these issues, but voters and media do not have to be silent.  

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