Now with just over a month left to go, the Southwest Monsoon is bringing regular pulses of rain across northern India. This brings flooding with it, but even without the rain, rivers are still rising as a result of earlier monsoon outbursts.
With heavy rainfall throughout this monsoon season, the River Ganges (Ganga) in Uttar Pradesh has risen above the danger mark and water has now entered residential areas in Allahabad in eastern India. The Ganges joins the River Yamuna at Allahabad and the city has been suffering flooding of this confluence for weeks.
According to a Union Water Resources Ministry statement, the River Ganges is likely soon to be at unprecedented flood levels further downstream. Ghazipur and Ballia are now at risk.
The 2,525km long river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh. Here, it empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is the third largest river in the world by water discharge and at least 400 million people live beside it.
The threat of flooding looms large now over Patna, the capital of the eastern Bihar state. In the Gandhi Ghat area, the level of the Ganges touched 50.28 metres on Saturday evening and was rising at 5cm an hour. The highest level recorded in recent times was 50.27 metres. That was in 1994.
Patna District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar said: “The Ganga has been flowing above the danger mark and the situation is alarming. The water level broke a 22-year-old record on Sunday morning.”
All drains in the 8.5km long Patna town protection wall have been closed. This defence was built after the floods in 1975, when the waters of the Ganges and the Sone rivers caused extensive damage.
The remains of Tropical Storm Dianmu have become reinvigorated over Bangladesh and another 100 to 200mm of rain are now likely over the Ganges’ lower reaches. West Bengal, Jharkhand, and again Bihar, are in line for this latest torrent.