Be ready for extreme weather events - Hindustan Times
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Be ready for extreme weather events

ByHT Editorial
Oct 05, 2023 09:56 PM IST

The monsoon chaos only confirms what experts have predicted: Expect the climate crisis to cause a spike in the number and frequency of extreme weather events

The monsoon this year has been a season of sorrow in the Himalayan region. Extreme weather events including intense rains have marked the season. In Himachal Pradesh and parts of Uttarakhand, the rains triggered floods and landslides that caused large-scale destruction of lives, livelihoods, homes and public infrastructure. On Wednesday, it was the turn of Sikkim to face the fury of the rains. Intense rainfall in upper Sikkim and a glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF) leading to flash floods in the Teesta, have wreaked havoc in the state. At least 14 people are dead and over a hundred persons, among them two dozen Army personnel, are reportedly missing. Details of the weather event that caused the GLOF are unavailable. What is known is that a rampaging Teesta, which traverses the length of Sikkim before joining the Brahmaputra in Bangladesh, destroyed the 1,200 MW Teesta Urja dam, a run-of-the-river project, and the debris caused a lot of damage downstream. At least 14 bridges have collapsed and National Highway 10 which connects the capital city of Gangtok to the rest of India has been washed away.

Teesta Urja, the second biggest run-of-the-river hydro power project in India, suffered massive damage due to flood caused by the breach in Lhonak lake in north-west Sikkim (Twitter Photo) PREMIUM
Teesta Urja, the second biggest run-of-the-river hydro power project in India, suffered massive damage due to flood caused by the breach in Lhonak lake in north-west Sikkim (Twitter Photo)

The monsoon this year has been a season of sorrow in the Himalayan region. Extreme weather events including intense rains have marked the season. In Himachal Pradesh and parts of Uttarakhand, the rains triggered floods and landslides that caused large-scale destruction of lives, livelihoods, homes and public infrastructure. On Wednesday, it was the turn of Sikkim to face the fury of the rains. Intense rainfall in upper Sikkim and a glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF) leading to flash floods in the Teesta, have wreaked havoc in the state. At least 14 people are dead and over a hundred persons, among them two dozen Army personnel, are reportedly missing. Details of the weather event that caused the GLOF are unavailable. What is known is that a rampaging Teesta, which traverses the length of Sikkim before joining the Brahmaputra in Bangladesh, destroyed the 1,200 MW Teesta Urja dam, a run-of-the-river project, and the debris caused a lot of damage downstream. At least 14 bridges have collapsed and National Highway 10 which connects the capital city of Gangtok to the rest of India has been washed away.

The monsoon chaos only confirms what experts have predicted: Expect the climate crisis to cause a spike in the number and frequency of extreme weather events. In precarious geographies such as the Himalayas, already prone to quakes, landslides and flash floods, the impact of the climate crisis is likely to be severe. This scenario will have to be factored in while building roads and habitations in the Himalayan states, which depend a lot on tourism for revenue, and while developing large infrastructure projects. Any environmental disaster can potentially destroy local economies. It may not be possible to prevent extreme weather events, but we surely can be prepared to limit the damage.

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