Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bihar floods linked to Climate Change


Though floods have been a regular feature, their growing intensity is being seen as a fall out of global warming. Recent scientific studies suggest that climate change-related melting of glaciers could seriously affect half a billion people in the Himalaya-Hindu-Kush region.

The United Nations called last year's floods in India as the worst in recent memory. Bihar was among the ten worst affected states. The floods in Bihar cause pain of misery, year after year. Last year was worse there. The embankment breached at night. Many were washed away in their sleep. "The current comes straight to our homes when the embankment breaches. We don't know what to do to save our selves, save the children. There's no way out," said Sumeri Devi, a villager."Ten children died this time - one old man, my (late) husband's elder brother was washed away from the road," said Pano Devi, a widow.

Animals too paid with their lives. Villagers could barely save themselves and those who escaped death were devastated by hunger and disease."Some suffer from coughs, some from cholera, others get cold and fever, some kalazar, these diseases are spreading," said Pramila Devi. "A lot of vomiting, stomach upsets and other different kinds of sores and ailments are spreading. Pregnant women are not able to have safe deliveries," said Mani Kumari, NGO worker.Pankshi Devi has five children to look after. Her husband died of snake-bite last monsoon. When the floodwater gushed into her home at night, she rushed to save her children, a bamboo stick pierced her eye. There was no medical help and now, she can barely see."A needle pierced my eye and it is gone now. It has affected the other eye too. Both my eyes are gone," said Pankshi Devi.Farming has been affected as well. Farmers, who used to grow three crops a year, now bank on the Rabi season after the floodwaters recede.

Extreme climatic variations are also worrying them. Not many of them know that this is due to global warming. Experts say things will only get worse. "Since the past few years, extremes of weather is troubling people. Because of global warming, glaciers are melting due to which a lot of water has come in the rivers. So naturally, the floods are much more now and more severe than in the past," said Birendra Nath Jha, geologist turned farmer."Monsoon will be severe, just as the winters were. Just as this summer is, after summer, monsoon too will be extreme. A terrible monsoon will come again and then floods just as severe. This time there will be more devastation," said Halima Khatoon, a villager.Natural disasters are the visible face of climate change. In Bihar, recurring floods may be commonplace, but their growing intensity may be linked to the weather. They leave the population to deal with a host of diseases and disaster-inflicted injuries.
(Ref: NDTV)

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