Siddhartha SharmaOct. 27, 2021 5:12:08 p.m. IST
Editor’s Note: As COP26 approaches, we share articles written by young Indian leaders who were selected as part of the United Nations’ We The Change campaign in India. They all work towards various sustainable development goals as prescribed by the UN.
The Brahmaputra floods have shaped the land in much of northeast India for thousands of years. In the recent past, the region has been grappling with the devastating effects of changing climatic conditions. One of the main causes of concern for residents of many villages in rural Assam is changing precipitation patterns. Major flooding in the Brahmaputra is known to cause flooding for several days.
Today, floods present challenges in many ways. Sometimes this worries those responsible for the dam and forces them to release water late at night, artificially inundating many villages. Other times, it is the changing course of rivers and their tributaries that uproot entire villages.
The Kumutiya River in Dhemaji is flooded every year, destroying crops and homes. He has moved nearly three kilometers since 1960 and villages have had to move with him. It has an enormous human cost and often has a very asymmetrical impact on village life, affecting the most vulnerable segments of society and pushing them back into poverty. There are times when families have to leave their homes in the middle of the night, never to come back. Not only do they leave behind sentimental valuables, but the sudden rise in the waters – both natural and man-made – gives them no opportunity to collect valuables or important documents.
Unlike in the past, floodwaters do not recede quickly enough to resume agricultural activities. It often lags behind for much longer, affecting agriculture and harming the livelihoods of those already affected by the floods. The period of pre-monsoon and monsoon rainfall which usually begins in April and lasts until the end of August now extends into September. Heavy rains in Arunachal Pradesh, where illegal logging is rampant, are bringing more silt from the mountains than ever before. The deposition of silt reduces the water carrying capacity of the river and causes frequent and unpredictable movements of the course of the rivers.
The floods in India are not just affecting the North East. It affects every corner of the country. 43 years after the establishment of the first and last flood commission, India still does not have a national flood control authority.
One of the main observations of the 1976 Rashtriya Barh Ayog (RBA), or National Flood Commission, was that the increase in flooding was due to anthropogenic factors such as deforestation, drainage congestion and development works. poorly planned. In the 1980s, it was appropriate for the commission to rule out natural causes, which is no longer the case.
Today, large-scale (man-made) glacial melt in the Himalayas is exacerbating flooding. The commission in its report questioned the effectiveness of embankments and reservoirs. The receding flood waters being blocked by the embankments, the effectiveness of their use is again questioned.
How to deal with flooding?
With varying geographic features, a country as large as India cannot have one-size-fits-all master plans that can be effective in combating floods. Each state and the Center must coordinate closely and make consolidated efforts to undertake research and policy initiatives in order to control floods and make intelligent use of shared water resources. By delving into the problem one could begin to understand the origins of the problem by estimating the flood prone areas of the country, which is why research initiatives are needed to facilitate the creation of a dynamic strategy adapted to deal with nature. changing floods. . Each state in such an effort can build its appropriate plan to meet unique needs.
One of the alarming highlights of the 2017 CAG report was the lack of functioning telemetry stations for flood forecasting in India. The majority of flood forecasting systems deployed are either carried away or have had their parts stolen. As a result, despite decades of modernization efforts, the Central Water Commission (CWC) lacks “real-time data” on flooding and relies on manual data for policy making. Many cutting-edge technologies within our grasp should be used to design cost-effective technologies that can be deployed, repaired, and upgraded with rapid turnaround times. At the same time, renewed efforts are also needed to create open source GIS-based flood models.
Today it is undeniable that humans are melting glaciers faster than ever before, so the key to the solution is to understand what we can.
About 15% of Indians own vehicles and the entire country depends on electricity 70% produced from coal. Coal-fired vehicles and power plants are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases that heat the planet. Power generation, transportation activities and Indian cuisines are responsible for two-thirds of the man-made carbon emissions in India. In addition, 20 percent of these total anthropogenic emissions come from road transport alone. Each of us can help reduce the footprint of transportation and our kitchen and we discuss that below.
If each of us chooses to walk, cycle or carpool, whenever it suits us, we could reduce emissions by at least one percent. Big SUVs and sports cars pollute the most in terms of emissions, and if we choose a compact car for traveling, we can help reduce our footprint. The roof box or towing increases the vehicle’s drag and requires more power, which means reduced fuel economy and more emissions. India should create policies to limit this transport.
Unnecessary acceleration and braking reduces mileage by over 30% and increases your carbon footprint. Speed often puts pressure on the engine for more power and it begins to burn more fuel, resulting in more emissions. If we avoid speeding and use “eco” mode, with properly inflated tires and the right quality of fuel, our footprint per trip can be significantly reduced.
Another point to note is to keep an eye out for oxygen sensors in the engine and other industrial equipment. Correctly calibrated oxygen sensors increase energy efficiency by 40% and dramatically reduce emissions.
Climate change is an exponential phenomenon and in our fight against it the key is to use technologies aggressively and to use prescriptive analyzes to counter the industrial impacts of behaviors harmful to the planet.
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The author is a sustainability and climate risk practitioner in the area of financial risk management. He is also the founder of the investment company CredFIC and founded the Global Shapers Guwahati Hub.