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Walking in the shadow of Madhya Pradesh’s devastating floods

Walking in the shadow of Madhya Pradesh’s devastating floods

Bundelkhand, a region common to Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, is often in the news because of the drought. But in August last year, the Bundelkhand floods dominated the media. The rains started in Bundelkhand from 3rd August 2021. This was followed by heavy rain in some areas, thus flooding the banks of the Sindh River. A major tributary of the Yamuna River passes through this area, causing flooding in the region. Thousands of houses collapsed in the flood. The cattle died. The feed was destroyed. Millions of people were left homeless.

The three concrete bridges built to cross the Sindh River – Sevdha, Ratangarh Temple and Lachna – completely collapsed. Several other bridges were also damaged due to the rising river. Bundelkhand is actually divided into two states, so it became difficult to assess the damage immediately, but in one week alone more than 350 Uttar Pradesh villages in Uttar Pradesh were submerged by flood waters.

Journey of Sindh River after Flood

In August 2021, several months after the floods, we began our journey on the banks of the Sindh river in Sevdha, Madhya Pradesh. Even then, we saw much evidence describing the devastation caused by the floods.

We met farmers Naresh Vishwakarma and Jairam Baghel there. He showed us how the river sand got into his fields during the flood, which was harmful to his crop. Crops cannot be grown in this sand farming. The boundary walls collapsed. Machinery repair work is still going on. Jairam told that his jowar-millet crop was ruined in the flood.

Villagers also told about their loss. Pointing to the roof of the houses and the plank of the trees, he showed how high the water had reached, and how the villages were submerged. It was a very intimidating experience to hear the sight-seeing stories of the devastation of the floods from the farmers while passing through the flood-affected areas.

Kaptan Singh, 75, a resident of Dhamdholi village in Shivpuri district said, “I have never seen such a terrible flood in my life. Earlier the water level used to rise during floods, but never the water of the river entered our village. I had grown paddy in 27 bighas (7.44 acres) of field, which got ruined due to floods. For this only Rs 5000 was received as compensation, while many other villagers did not get any compensation. The responsibility of distributing the compensation was with the patwari.”

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The floods have left traces of their devastation everywhere. These also include sand deposited on the fields where the crop is now grown. When Suresh Kushwaha from Saadkarpur village saw us walking with his belongings, he took them out of his well and gave them water. Suresh said the water level in the well had risen abnormally. After the flood, stones and silt were deposited in the wells, due to which the water level rose.

Suresh was one of the farmers who showed us the massive damage done to fields, motors and power lines due to the August 2021 floods. He said that when there was a flood, rice and peanut crops had grown in the fields. , which were ruined. The fertile topsoil of his fields was destroyed. A hard rocky layer had emerged that was not suitable for cultivation. Farmers in the town had to bring fertile soil from other areas and put it in their fields. Along with this, more manure than ever must now be used to grow the crop.

Suresh said, “People representing a fertilizer company used to visit our village regularly. He advised us to use 25kg of urea, 10kg of potash, a bag of super fertilizer, and several packets of zinc.” He had said that zinc, that is, zinc, must be applied especially because the fertile soil of the field has been completely destroyed.

This increased the additional expense of the farmers, which was becoming difficult for them to bear. On the other hand, making the soil fertile through these chemical fertilizers could also have long-term effects on the environment.

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Dams, Irrigation and Flood Management

Mohini pickup reservoir and Madikheda (Atal Sagar) are the two major dams on the Sindh river in the Shivpuri district. The dam is part of the Sindh Phase-II irrigation project, which was commissioned in 2010-2011 at a cost of Rs 74.66 billion to mitigate the effects of drought in the region.

Is climate change the cause?

Despite the severe floods of August 2021, the total summer rainfall in Bundelkhand was almost average. Madhya Pradesh received 945.2 mm of rain between June 1 and September 30, while the average rainfall was 940.6 mm. The only difference was that the rain was concentrated. However, some areas of the region also received heavy rainfall. In early August the rain was very heavy. The unevenness of rainfall in the same area is an effect of climate change. 

Shivpuri, Guna and Datia received unusually heavy rains when the floods occurred on August 2-3, 2021. Madikheda and Mohini dams are in the Shivpuri district. Guna and Vidisha are upstream districts of the Indus River, which partially contribute to the catchment area of ​​the dams. 

Precipitation was concentrated over time, becoming more intense in early August. This greater disparity in rainfall is a clear effect of climate change.

This article first appeared on The Third Pole.

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