Of the over 1,700 people who lost their lives to extreme weather events (lightning and thunderstorms, cyclones, floods, heavy rains, and landslides) in India in 2021, 350 were from Maharashtra. Odisha followed with 223 casualties; and in Madhya Pradesh, 191 lives were lost.
These figures are from the statistical compendium State of India’s Environment 2022: In Figures, published every year by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and Down To Earth magazine. The e-report was released online recently to mark the World Environment Day that was on Sunday. The year had many more warning signs of the calamity that is confronting the nation. The past decade was India’s warmest decade on record. Eleven out of the 15 warmest years were in the last 15 years (2007-21).
India recorded its fifth warmest year in 2021 when the average temperature remained 0.44°C above normal (1981-2010 average). The country was 0.71°C warmer than normal in 2016, India’s warmest ever year. In 2021, the country also had its third-hottest March ever, and in 2022, March temperatures beat all previous records.
Just five states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Haryana – accounted for 54 per cent of the heatwave days in the country.
There are 25 glacial lakes and water bodies across India, China and Nepal that have recorded more than 40 per cent increase in their water spread areas since 2009. According to the report, they pose a grave threat to seven Indian states and union territories and need to be monitored closely.
There has been an almost 30 per cent reduction in India’s expenditure on natural calamities in 2021-22, compared to 2020-21. In six states and union territories, the cut-down has been over 50 per cent, while it has been over 70 per cent in another five.