Kerala flooding of 2018 - What factors triggered the worst flooding of this century?

In the last  decade or so the Mother nature has been  showing her fury on us by way of generating  powerful cyclones, storms, twisters, cloud busts, forest fires and disastrous flooding, rise in sea-level, etc.  These things are happening somewhere across the globe  and if we have the delusion that it is the edit of God,  we must stop being a fatalist and ponder over the human abuse of the nature. Being humans, we are the ones responsible for the mess we are in right now. With  too many automobiles, too many factories  and  too many power houses throwing out smoke and effluents, the resultant  global warming, etc  due to excess carbon dioxide, methane in the atmosphere, has been a threat to our very existence on this earth. The man made activities like deforestation, haphazard construction, mining, quarrying are also responsible for the natural disasters.

The  SW Monsoon season has already set in the state of Kerala  and the weather Dept  at Chennai  says that this year the rainy season will be a normal one  and if it is so, it is well and good.  Exactly two years ago,  during very early SW monsoon season, Kerala was devastated,  continuous rain in August 2018 triggered  the worst flooding of the century.  On the 8th of August  it  received  12 inches of rainfall within 24 hours. All the rivers in Kerala were in spate and many overflowed beyond the flood plains. People in these  areas were worst affected.  Media  reports pointed  out  the  2018  flooding with a rain fall of 2086 mm  is next only to 1924  (the rain fall was  3368 mm) flooding.   By mid August  several million  people were affected and toward the end of the season roughly 300000 people became homeless. The excess flooding  was  further complicated by land slides in many places causing road damages  and  threats to human lives.  The 2018 flooding in Kerala left 445 people dead, 140 people missing  and affected one third of the state population.  All the 14 districts  were classified as a level three calamity by the central government, meaning it was just devastating. 

In the midst of calamity we saw the people's  strength, transcending caste, creed, religion, etc, working hard  to save the fellow humans against nature's fury.  Highly commendable was the selfless sacrifice made by the fishermen communities, ignoring their woes of tough profession and painful existence. The central and state organizations, backed by many Indian states and the Kerala diaspora handled the deluge-like situation  well despite odds.  The problem of flooding was  caused by many factors;  overall it was man made.  The Govt. negligence and human greediness were the primary causes of this natural disaster that  could have been averted had the people  respected the ''mother nature'' and the green space around them.  
We are, now,  confronted by  many questions and one being a simple one. Why  was Kerala  pushed to the  abysmal depth  of environmental disaster in 2018?   What went wrong with a state that is dubbed as the God's own Country - fertile land endowed with nature's bounty -  backwaters, plenty of greenery and groves, etc?  Rain alone is not the main reason  for this disaster.  It is sheer negligence of the past governments and the greed of the people. 
The following are the  primary reasons  responsible for the 2018 disastrous  flooding in the state of Kerala:
August 2018 flooding Kerala, evacuation is on,

01.  Kerala gets the rain during two seasons - SW monsoon - June to September  from the Arabian sea and the  NE retreating  monsoon -  October to December. The first phase  accounts for most of the rains. Before the monsoon seasons, the PWD should strengthen  the banks of the rivers  and plan the management of many dams to handle possible  heavy flood situation  When disaster struck, last time in August,  out of a total of 42 dams, two  thirds of the dams in Kerala were  opened  at the same time as the dams were filling fast,  causing more hardship to the people living down stream many. This was a bad decision taken in haste by the officials and such an action  further aggravated  the flood situation. 
Kerala river in spate  August 2018
02.  In  2018, Kerala  unlike earlier years,  received  very heavy monsoon rain fall 116 per cent more than normal. The state disaster management dept was  not prepared for such an eventuality  in 2018.  This time they should plan ahead  to deal with  excess  water flows and rescue operations in the severely flooded areas. 
03. The state being a populous  one, has  the highest population density with less land. It is   860 square kilo meters  that is double of the average population density of India.  People in the flood-prone areas should be either warned or moved out to  safer places. In 2018, it was not  well planed.
16 August 2018 Ariel view of flooding. Kerala  
04.  The destruction of  wooded areas has happened on a large scale in the past and  even continues now.   Green space is part of Kerala's geography  as one side of the land is in the Western Ghat area.  Unfortunately,  since independence, the green area  has been shrinking, in particular, in the last two decades. This being due to poor forest land management and  lax in the enforcement of strict  forest regulations/rules.  

05.  Continuous reduction in green space is a serious issue in Kerala. In 1900, the green cover was 8 lakh  hector and the reduction  to less than 2 lakh hectors of land this far  is quite shocking and deplorable.  Part of the reason is growing population, housing needs, encroachments of  forest lands by  unscrupulous people and  Christian groups, etc. The latter are involved in illegal occupation of Govt land on a large scale.  

06.  Losing  vast green cover will reduce the capacity of land to absorb water and promotes water stagnation. Lots of trees, etc with deep roots will absorb the water flowing on the land. Deforestation in  the hilly areas causes  sudden raise of water as  there are no trees left to absorb it.

07.  Because of lack of vegetation  and tree cover, soil erosion  will  make the lands vulnerable to landslides.      

08. To  meet the additional  housing needs,  housing construction projects are going on the hills as well as in the paddy fields on the plains. The latter  act as reservoirs  in the low lying  areas  and absorb the excess rain water but these soil rich  fields were converted into airports, malls, building etc.  The broken  hard rock fragments and  minute gains from the quarries are  used to fill up the  low-lying lands close to the rivers. 

09.  On the hills, building  work goes on with  poor planing and  the builders never check the  land stability, gradient of the ground and the  flow of water during rains. They block  those channels  where  rain water will normally follow during heavy rains.   Haphazard  and unplanned construction will spell disaster.  

10.  Both on the plains and on the hills   activities of Mining and Quarrying have been on for sometime.  Private  parties  promote construction of tourist homes for the visitors. Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel  was against these activities because the ghat area is ecologically a sensitive one  as  the soil cover and several wildlife habitats will be affected. The removal of trees on a large scale  will promote soil erosion that may  cause landslides because soil loses its ability to hold water.  But unscrupulous people find loopholes  to circumvent the govt. restrictions. Deforestation coupled with  quarrying and mining will impact the soil and its strength, promoting landslides near the highways and ghat roads. 

11.   Kerala  state holds the third rank  with highest number of rivers and most of them flow west to reach the Arabian sea.The crux of the problems is many places the flood plains areas of the river are clogged due to housing projects. Consequently when flooding occurs the flood plains are turned into disaster area, The  over-flowing river water does not have space to drain out or gets absorbed in the land. Further, these rivers need to be cleared of silt accumulation periodically and it will vastly improve the  water- holding capacity of the river. Flood plains areas must be free from housing projects, etc.

12. In 2018, the  SW monsoon season had set in earlier  and brought in unexpected heavy rains all over the places including the catchment areas. Th officials made a grave mistake  by waiting for the dams to fill up to the danger level  and release the water at that time. Down stream areas already faced the flood-like situation. The belated release of water  from the dams impacted the areas and people in the low-lying areas.

The 2018 Kerala flooding is  a severe warning to the other state governments with a large number of rivers that are fed by rain water.  Every year, prior to the monsoon season, the officials need to be alert and be prepared for any eventuality or any emergency situation.