D V Girish
I had never seen River Bhadra flowing at this intensity and volume in all my life. This is worrying. Receiving continuous heavy rainfall – the volume that is flowing is enormous. In fact, heavy rainfall of 5-10 inches a day in the Malenadu belt and that too in the hill ranges of Chikkamagaluru is neither abnormal nor surprising.
I have myself recorded such volume of rainfall in my estate in the past but we have never experienced this kind of a flood situation earlier. Then why is it ‘flooding now’ is a serious question which everybody should question and ponder about.
When it rains, water normally seeps into the earth. Vegetation which could be compared to a sponge helps absorb water, percolates it into the earth and prevents soil erosion. When it has absorbed enough, it starts leaving out the excess water that flows in the form of rivers. But lately, we are experiencing severe drought and severe water runoffs.
Until a week ago, we had not received sufficient rains in this region. Suddenly, in the last 5-6 days, all the rivers, tanks and dams are full and flooded. What does it mean? It means that the land at landscape level is unable to absorb water, resulting in high run offs, causing landslides and flooding.
If we start eliciting and enumerating the reasons, there are several including destruction of forests for cultivation, construction of roads and highways, and of course, other developments. Apart from this, concretization, over exploitation of land, extreme use of pesticides, encroachment of river beds and global warming has led to this scary situation.
Added to this, flow of muddy waters in many areas instead of fresh water is a clear sign of disturbance caused to the habitat. Unfortunately, the worst affected are those who cannot afford any alternate life options. This is really what scientists working on climate change had repeatedly warned and forecast over the years.
During our visit to flood affected areas in Chikkamagaluru, it was amazing to observe that fresh and clean water was flowing wherever there was forest habitation without being affected by floods. All the muddy water and flooding was seen only in human habitation and other settlement areas.
This is a clear indication of the importance and significance of forest protection for our own security. If we don’t learn now, we never will.