In 2018, Nagaland faced severe losses due to floods, with damages exceeding Rs 800 crore. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio even tweeted, “”Nagaland needs your help. Incessant rain has caused floods & landslides in several parts of the state & have affected many,” seeking for relief from the centre.

Despite experiencing below-normal rainfall for several decades, the state witnessed one of the deadliest floods in decades, resulting in casualties, displacement, and destruction across numerous villages. Down To Earth (DTE), a publication, investigated the causes behind this calamity, focusing on Wokha district, one of the hardest-hit areas. This was shared through a video titled, “Why Nagaland faced unprecedented flooding after decades” on DTE YouTube channel on 19 May 2024.

According to the investigation, Wokha district experienced three heavy rainfall events in July 2018, with significant amounts of precipitation recorded on 7, 8, and 31 July. Villages like Liphi, Runchan, Renthan, and Koro were severely affected, with flooding destroying homes, agricultural fields, and threatening biodiversity.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported a total of 21 similar rainfall events across Nagaland within a span of three months. Rather than being evenly distributed, these heavy rains occurred sporadically over smaller areas, leaving the rest of the region experiencing dry spells. This irregular pattern of rainfall is attributed to global warming and climate change, according to DTE.

DTE investigation found that the topography of Nagaland marked by rolling hills and intersecting rivers, presents a unique challenge in flood management. While the state is blessed with four major rivers and numerous tributaries, DTE found that their shallow depths make them incapable of containing excess floodwaters and thus, when heavy rainfall inundate the region, these rivers overflow, unleashing torrents of water that engulf villages and forests downstream. This phenomenon, exacerbated by the inadequacy of river infrastructure, results in long-lasting damage to both human settlements and wildlife habitats.

The DTE found that the floods have impacted the biodiversity of Nagaland, particularly focusing on butterflies as an indicator species. It suggested that floods, as well as changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, have disrupted the habitat of butterflies, leading to their absence from their natural environment. This absence is seen as a warning sign of climate change, as butterflies are highly sensitive to environmental variations.

The DTE investigation also found that between 1989 and 2018 the state showed a significant decrease in trend in monsoon rainfall. Despite being known for its abundant rainfall, the state experienced a significant decline in precipitation levels, with Wokha district, renowned for its high monsoon rainfall, also witnessing a similar downward trend over a 30-year period. This shift in rainfall patterns, coupled with an overall decrease in monsoon rainfall, has contributed to the desertification of Nagaland, observed DTE. Nagaland in fact reported one of the highest rates of desertification in the country between 2003 and 2018.

The less than 8 minutes video by DTE concluded by painting a grim picture of Nagaland’s future, describing the region as “struggling with desertification, erratic rainfall, and the loss of precious ecology.” It emphasized the urgency of addressing these issues to prevent further environmental degradation and ensure the sustainability of the region. Additionally, it notes that six states in the northeastern region are among the top 10 places in India with the highest rates of desertification, highlighting the widespread nature of the problem in the region.

MTNews Desk

5 thoughts on “Down to Earth investigates Nagaland’s flood crisis with special focus on Wokha district”
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