At the time of writing, 111 fatalities have been reported with the Malappuram district being the worst-affected. The floods have led to mass displacement. More than 2.27 lakh people are being sheltered in 1,551 relief camps.
Excess rainfall during the monsoon season triggered the floods, which have led to landslides in multiple parts of the state. The Malappuram and Wayland districts alone – both hard-hit by landslides – received excess rainfall of 500 and 407 percent, respectively, between August 8th and August 14th. 64 landslides have occurred, according to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The ferocity of the flooding has been attributed to industrial development along the Western Ghats, causing their depletion across the state. This has been warned of ever since a 2011 report by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, which called for a ban on the use of Western Ghats land for quarrying and mining. Kerala is home to 5,924 quarries, of which are 3,332 are located in ecologically vulnerable areas belonging to a so-called protection zone delineated by a subsequent committee report, including sensitive areas prone to landslides. Experts have warned that continued destruction of the state’s biodiversity are likely to contribute to more intense flooding in the future.
This year’s flooding comes on the heels of calamitous flooding last year which ranked among the worst disasters in the state’s history. More than 480 were killed and lakhs were displaced. One of the major consequences of the floods were outbreaks of multiple infectious diseases in their aftermath, with numerous deaths reported due to acute diarrhoeal disease, dengue fever, and leptospirosis. As such, during these floods, vigilance is important to ensure that any disease outbreaks are controlled and treatment is administered to those who need it – particularly in relief camps, where communicable conditions are posed to spread rapidly due to the close proximity of its occupants.
Multiple other states have been hit by flooding in India, including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan, as well as the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. As relief efforts get underway, measures to control infectious diseases are of vital importance.