CSE’s India 2022: An Assessment of Extreme Weather Events report


    In News

    • Recently, the report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found that in just nine months of 2022, India witnessed some form of natural disaster almost every day. 
      • India recorded extreme weather events on 241 of the 273 days between January 1 and September 30, 2022. 

    About the assessment 

    • The assessment provides a comprehensive overview of the state of extreme weather in India across a major part of the year. 
      • The report provides season-wise, month-wise, and region-wise analysis of extreme weather events and their associated loss and damage.
    • CSE has sourced its data from two key Indian government sources: the IMD and the Disaster Management Division (DMD) of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. 

    Do you know?

    • What are Extreme weather events? 
      • The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines extreme weather events as those that are “rare at a particular place and time of year”.
      • While India does not have an official definition, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) classifies lightning and thunderstorm, heavy to very and extremely heavy rainfall, landslide and floods, cold wave, heat wave, cyclones, snowfall, dust and sandstorms, squalls, hail storms and gales as extreme weather events.

    Major Highlights of the report

    • A disaster almost every day
      • India has seen close to a disaster every day in the nine months of this year from heat and cold waves, cyclones, and lightning to heavy rains, floods, and landslides.
    • Loss and damage under-estimated
      • These disasters have claimed 2,755 lives, affected 1.8 million hectares of crop area, destroyed over 416,667 houses, and killed close to 70,000 livestock. 
      • This estimation of loss and damage is probably an underestimate as data for each event including losses of public property or crop loss has not been collated or estimated.
    • State-wise assessment:
      • Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of days with extreme weather events.
      • Himachal Pradesh saw the highest number of human fatalities (359 deaths). 
      • Assam reported the highest number of damaged houses and animal deaths.
      • Karnataka accounted for more than 50 percent of the crop area affected in the country. 
    • Region-wise assessment:
      • The central and north-western regions reported the highest number of days with extreme weather events at 198 and 195, respectively. 
      • In terms of human lives lost, central India topped the list with 887 deaths, followed by the east and northeast (783 deaths).
    • Warmest, wettest, driest: 
      • In 2022, India recorded its seventh wettest January since 1901
      • This March was also the warmest ever and the third driest in 121 years.
      • Eastern and north-eastern India saw its warmest and driest July in 121 years. The region also recorded its second-warmest August and fourth-warmest September in 2022.
    • Nature of the event
      • All types of extreme weather have been seen in the past nine months; lightning and storms were spread over 30 states and claimed 773 lives. 

    Major gaps in the report

    • Loss and damage assessment is not done properly: While a realistic estimate can be made about the number of days the country recorded extreme weather events from the IMD releases, major gaps remain when it comes to loss and damage assessment. 
    • CSE researchers say that the data itself is not comprehensive: For instance, media reports suggest widespread crop loss in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat during the monsoon season (June-September), but the Centre’s cumulative loss and damage report for the season claims that there have been no losses in these states.
    • The absence of a robust public database on extreme weather events in the country poses difficulties in the evaluation of disaster situations and its impacts.

    Way forward

    • The report highlights the need for managing these extreme events.
    • Need of the hour is to move beyond the management of the disaster to reducing risks and improving resilience.
    • We need to improve the systems for flood management, deliberately building drainage and water recharge systems on the one hand and investing in green spaces and forests so that these sponges of water can be revitalized for the coming storms.

    Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)

    • It is a public-interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi
    • CSE researches into, lobbies for and communicates the urgency of development that is both sustainable and equitable.
    • CSE’s efforts are specifically designed to create awareness about problems and propose sustainable solutions.
    • CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory is an independent, analytical laboratory that monitors toxic contamination of the environment and uses the results of this monitoring to advocate for improved regulation of the use of toxins in the country.