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Friday, Jun 26, 2020 14:15 [IST]

Last Update: Friday, Jun 26, 2020 08:40 [IST]

Prepare for another onslaught

The entire world and the country are focused on COVID-19 and debating the safest ways to relax the lockdowns. Everything about the post-COVID world is being debated as can be expected by the uprooting of the entire system by this little virus. To add to the misery of COVID-19 lockdowns, Cyclone Amphan left a trail of disaster behind and deeply impacted the testing and tracing of COVID-19 and left scores of returning immigrant labourers homeless. But India cannot lose sight of the monsoon season which has duly arrived but not without its share of woes.
The rains bring with it a promise of good crops but also destruction and tragedy. Even the good news of reduced pollution due to worldwide lockdowns may end up spelling bad news for the monsoon. The surface temperature anomalies over the last few months show a cooler than normal Indian subcontinent and a warmer than the normal Indian Ocean which can mean a delayed onset. India Meteorological Department (IMD) has however called for normal onset and a normal season.
But even a “normal” monsoon does not guarantee that there will not be floods and droughts across the country. Everything about the monsoon has been changing and the Indian Ocean continues to warm even as the lockdowns reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The warm Indian Ocean is a blessing since it provides the enormous amount of moisture needed to maintain the monsoon. However, the droughts and floods are being exacerbated by the warming Indian Ocean.
The mechanistic understanding of large-scale extreme rain events is a critical step towards potentially improving their forecasts. Considering the massive destruction of the floods in the last few years, such advances cannot come soon enough. But this upcoming monsoon season is much more worrisome. How will these events add to the COVID-19 misery?
Experts have warned that the rains could derail the recovery if every individual is not extra careful and the health infrastructure not at its best. And widespread incessant rains, landslides, roadblocks and floods and disruption in communication networks will severely hamper the system, health infrastructure included.
Scientists have to work with uncertainties and as such policy-makers have to plan for an uncertain future. But, what we know for sure is that if development does not take into account the risk of natural disasters then the loss of life will continue to increase. Once India is past this crisis and past this monsoon season, it needs to prepare for the projected continuation of large-scale extreme rain events. In the immediate days and weeks, India needs all the resources it can muster to deal with the coming vagaries of the monsoon and the devastation it may pour onto ongoing and unresolved COVID trauma.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi