From 1 June to 29 August 2018, Kerala, a state in southwestern India, recorded 36% excess rainfall than normal levels, leading to widespread floods and landslides events and resulting in 445 deaths. In this study, satellite-based data were used to map the flood inundation in the districts of Thrissur, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Idukki and Kottayam. Specifically, flood delineation was enabled with Sentinel-1A radar data of 21 August 2018 and was compared with an average pre-flood, water-cover map based on Modified Normalized Difference Water Index (MNDWI) that was developed using a January and February 2018 Sentinel-2A dataset.
A 90% increase in water cover was observed during the August 2018 flood event. Low lying areas in the coastal plains of Kuttanad and the Kole lands of Thrissur, had marked a rise of up to 5 and 10?m of water, respectively, during this deluge. These estimates are conservative as that the flood waters had started receding prior to the August 21 Sentinel-1A imagery.
Keywords: Flood, Disaster, Rainfall, Monsoon
Kerala State has an average annual precipitation of about 3000 mm.
The rainfall in the state is controlled by the south-west and north east monsoons. About 90% of the rainfall occurs during six monsoon months. The high intensity storms prevailing during the monsoon months result in the heavy discharges in all rivers. The continuous and heavy precipitation that occurs in the steep and undulating terrain finds its way into the main rivers through innumerable streams and water course. Kerala experienced and abnormally high rainfall from 1st June 2018 to 19 August 2018. This resulted in severe flooding in 13 out of 14 districts in the state.
As per IMD data, Kerala received 2346.6 mm of rainfall from 1st June 2018 to August 2018 in contrast to an expected 1649.5 mm of rainfall. This rainfall was about 42% about the normal. Further the rainfall over Kerala during June, July and 1st to 19th of August was 15%, 18% and 64% respectively above normal month wise rainfall period, as reported by IMD.
The Economic Implication of Kerala Flood
Thiruvananthapuram: Over the past week, the entire state of Kerala is in the grip of a massive, unprecedented flood: the last time anything like this has happened was in 1924. The Kerala government has been trying to cope with the crisis. It has so far put up a very reasonable and credible relief effort. Help from the centre, although welcome, has been a meagre ? 600 crore. Now, the major question confronting the state and its hapless citizens is an assessment of the material damage to both public and private properties. There are at least seven implications of these catastrophic floods that have a strong and lingering bearing on Keralas economy.
The main source of income for the state exchequer is the goods and services tax (GST). Unofficial estimates show that in its first year of operation in 2017-18, the SGST (state GST) collected was only ? 7,000 crore, although an additional IGST (integrated GST) of equal amount will be forthcoming. Even including IGST, the total collection is still lower than what was being collected under the old VAT (value-added tax) regime. Kerala is essentially a consumption state, but consumption is now going to be adversely affected as many people have lost their livelihood.
With scaling down of consumption, GST collections may be adversely affected. However there can be an opposing force. Reconstruction and replacement by affected families, especially by those who can afford it, may actually precipitate a consumption boom, which may actually increase consumption, leading to a larger GST collection. So, it will depend on which of these two forces have an upper hand.
Hit by incessant rains and floods that prompted the opening of dams, Kerala suffered a big loss in agriculture and livestock.
More than a hundred people perished when a number of flash floods and landslides devastated the South Indian state of Kerala, merely less than a week after torrential rains and monsoon first damaged the state.
Among those heavily affected are the states animal husbandry and dairy sector, which is a primary source of income for most farmers living in the area. To date, the loss in the sector is approximately 800 crores, per The Hindu Business Line.
Even worse, the devastating loss arrived when sustainability in milk, poultry and livestock is trying to be maintained at the state. According to Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University former Director of Entrepreneurship TP Sethumadhavan, the state lost more than four lakh (equivalent to 400,000) of poultry in the disaster, while one lakh each was lost for goats, milch cattle and pigs. On the other hand, the Kuttanad area posted an 80 percent loss in duck flocks.
Besides livestock, crops also recorded devastating losses, with both pineapple and banana zones losing the most. This trail of damage reached all the way to the Palakkad and Kuttanad regions, where the flood washed away horticulture plants, vegetables and medicinal plants. Considered as some of the best in the state in terms of agricultural production and promotion zones, these regions suffered from a disastrous blow with losses in crop varieties and breeds.
Meanwhile, The Hindu reported that the Animal Husbandry Department is collecting and delivering cattle feed to needy farmers free of cost as assistance. Dairy farmers in Wayanad district have already received a large share of the stock from Karnataka.
Goats amounting to one lakh were lost throughout the heavy rains and flooding in Kerala. (Source)
In a statement, District Animal Husbandry officer A.C. Mohandas said, We have started an exclusive helpline0495272050to work together in the sector. In Kozhikode district, arrangements have been made to offer quick medical assistance to unhealthy animals in all grama panchayats. Mohandas also noted that some panchayats or village councils even went as far as to open special camps.
At press time, a special camp in Chethukadavu has sheltered around 50 animals, and theyll remain there until Saturday. Dr. K.C. Ismail stated that the animals were all given proper food and medicine to keep them healthy. As farmers themselves arranged fodder, there were no big hurdles for us to manage it, and some of them even managed to take the cows back home, Ismail continued.
In the meantime, farmers shared the loss of livestock in their respective areas, with the total loss amounting up to ?38.20 lakh and counting.
Public works department (PWD) was engaged in works to ensure better connectivity in the state when the flood submerged all its plans. PWD has incurred a loss Rs 4,700 crore as rivers overflowed submerging roads and bridges.
As per the report on Monday, around 428 roads were flooded and 158 were blocked due to landslides. In Alappuzha alone 182 roads were damaged in flood. Thirty-five roads in Pathanamthitta, 75 in Kottayam, 20 in Ernakulam, three in Muvattupuzha, 98 in Thrissur, 12 in Wayanad and two in Manjeri were damaged. Due to landslides 158 PWD roads were fully blocked of which around 111 are in Idukki, which has seriously hampered relief measures in the district. In case of bridges, PWD is yet to take stock of the situation in Idukki, Thrissur and Pathanamthitta districts as the areas remain inaccessible due to flooding. However, initial estimate shows that 221 bridges are affected by floods and traffic is restricted in 59 bridges. Idukki district has reported damages to bridges in Meenmutti and Periyapara. Around Rs 21.25 crore will be needed for to carry out the repair works.
The August 2018 flood in Kerala has severely affected the economy. The deluge has been widespread, affecting 10 of the 14 districts in the state.
The August 2018 flood in Kerala has severely affected the economy. The deluge has been widespread, affecting 10 of the 14 districts in the state. Ernakulam district, the largest tourism (and industrial) contributor to the state economy was severely damaged, with the main airport into the state (Kochi) shutting for two weeks.
Throwing more light, Pavethra Ponniah, Vice President and Sector Head, ICRA, says, Our interaction with the local tourism industry in Kerala indicated an optimism about an early recovery panning out over the next quarter. However, this might take longer based on history and our analysis, which indicates that the return of foreign tourists might be more gradual, over a 12-16-month period. Domestic travelers would return faster.
With abundant natural beauty, Kerala is a key tourist destination in India, for domestic and inbound tourism alike. Travel & tourism accounts for ~10% of Keralas gross state domestic product (GSDP) and for ~25% of the jobs in the state. During CY2017, domestic tourists to Kerala grew by 11.4% to 147 lakh tourists while foreign tourist arrivals (FTA) grew by 5.2% to 10.9 lakh tourist. Total foreign exchange from the tourism sector during CY2017 grew by 8.3% to Rs 8,392 crore while the total revenue from tourism grew by 12.6% to Rs. 33,384 crores.
As per the Ministry of Tourism, Kerala has 418 hotels and 12,672 rooms, 46% of which are in the premium (4-star and above) category. ICRA research is tracking an incremental pipeline inventory of about 1,500 plus rooms in the premium segment. This apart, the state is a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) destination for several Indian corporates. The state has a vibrant houseboat culture, which is part of the broader Kerala appeal and tourist circuit. Several ancillary services like tourist guides, cabs, small tour operators and food and beverage (F&B) outlets also depend on tourism-based revenue.
Tourism business in Kerala is bound to be affected, both from domestic as well foreign travellers. FTA cancellations have started across destinations in Kerala, more so in the heavily-hit Idukki district (Munnar, Thekkady) and in Kumarakom. Domestic business travellers have a shorter week-long booking window, with immediate cancellations from this segment in Cochin and Trivandrum, the bigger business districts during and post the flood. However, a recovery from domestic business travellers can be expected in the next two months as unavoidable business travel tends to pent up and will flow back. On the flip side, MICE traffic has a longer booking window of up to 6-8 months, once lost to other destinations, is an opportunity cost. Several MICE events in Kerala, including long planned destination weddings and conferences, some even during December 2018, have relocated to other destinations in Goa and North India.
Given Keralas high dependence on tourism, coordinated efforts by the public and private sector at building-back-better will be critical for reducing the recovery period for the tourism industry. Apart from repairing physical damage, managing global perceptions to nurse inbound travel back to normalcy will be important. Going by experience, recovery is a function of several factors- geographic spread and extent of damage, the speed and quality of recovery, affordable low-cost connectivity for the traveller community and the profile of tourists.
ICRAs preliminary analysis indicates occupancies of sub 10% during August 2018 across several premium properties in Kerala, even in business districts. Fear of disease epidemic is keeping all but unavoidable travel away. Basis preliminary cancellations, occupancy in September 2018 is unlikely to cross 20-25%; occupancy during the same period last year stood at around 60%.
Adds, Ponniah, Although the floods have occurred during a monsoon-off-season for Kerala, most hotels (even those not affected by the floods) are already facing significant cancellations, running into the peak season in October-November 2018. New enquiries have also dried up. Back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate 20% (y-oy) lower revenues for a 200-room premium hotel in Kerala during FY2019. With operating margins for the industry assumed at 25%, this would translate into a year of losses and credit stress, as borrowers struggle to service their liabilities.
Kerala is considered a large market for both consumer durables and non-durables alike. According to the recently released National Family Health Survey 2015-16, 30% of the households in Kerala have at least six of the following assets pucca house, electricity connection, mobile phone or a landline, air conditioner, refrigerator, TV, washing machine and motorized vehicle. People living in the worst affected areas may have lost or have to replace or repair some of these assets.
That is going to make Kerala a large market for these items. The probability of fridges and TVs being replaced is the highest. There will be a similar demand for small household appliances like electric irons, blenders, pressure cookers, and pots and pans. Given the liquidity crunch, the vendors of these items may have to come up with attractive packages. There will also be increased demand for water purifiers, pressure washers and other cleaning products to effectively clean up the mess, which the floods have left behind. So after an initial lull, there will be a huge spurt in the demand for these items.
One of the important lessons that Keralites will learn from this crisis is the need for having some sort of insurance protection for their homes or at least for their important assets. This is likely to increase the demand for home insurance rapidly, which at the moment is very minuscule. Many Keralites have learnt that having insurance for their cars has come in very handy, although many of them may have fallen to the sales tactics of insurance agents who promise significant reductions in yearly premiums by simply reducing the insurance declared values. In times of total loss of a vehicle, this can be foolhardy.
In short, the unprecedented floods of the week of 13 August have some short-term negative implications for the economy of the state. But given the way Kerala has managed the disaster, one is optimistic that it will make the state more strong to deal with future crises induced by capricious weather.
The state of Kerala experiences two monsoon seasons characterized by southwest (June to September) and northeast (October to December) monsoons. The spatio-temporal distribution of rainfall here is significantly influenced by the overall physiography of the state (Simon and Mohankumar 2004Simon A, Mohankumar K. 2004. Spatial variability and rainfall characteristics of Kerala. J Earth Syst Sci. 113(2):211221.) Located in the western slopes of the Western Ghats, Kerala experiences heavy rainfall (roughly 3000?mm annually), of which, majority occur during the monsoon (Thomas and Prasannakumar 2016 Thomas J, Prasannakumar V. 2016. Temporal analysis of rainfall (18712012) and drought characteristics over a tropical monsoon-dominated state (Kerala) of India. J Hydrol. 534266280. The year 2018 experienced larger than normal rainfall with the southwest monsoon bringing an excess of 36% till the 29 August itself (Figure 2: Source IMD 2018) causing this deluge.
The assessment of the 2018 August floods in Kerala using August 21 Sentinel-1 A satellite imagery indicates that a 90% increase in water cover was observed due to the flooding. The measured water levels from satellite imagery and DEM for the region indicate that low lying areas in the coastal plains of Kuttanad and the Kole lands of Thrissur had a rise of water up to 5 m and 10 m, respectively. This study validates the findings of the previous studies (Prasad et al. 2006) on the applicability of multi-sensor satellite data in mapping flood hazards in India. The timely acquisition of the satellite data provides an opportunity to immediately identify the flooded regions for planning rescue and relief operations.
Combining the satellite-based approach with crowd sourced efforts to identify flooded locations and rescue needs can help better validate the crowd sourced approach and improve response for such extreme events in the future. It is evident from the rescue and relief efforts in Kerala that crowd sourcing and volunteered help is equally essential together with the government efforts using the military and para-military to save lives in extreme events of large magnitude.