As monsoon is peaking across India, various parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra are in trouble. Widespread water logging in the cities and large scale inundation of low lying areas is going to put millions of people to grave inconvenience, while hundreds are set to lose their lives due to flash floods and other rain-related damages. The story is same year after year.
Sometimes it is Mumbai, sometimes Chennai, sometimes Kolkata, sometimes Assam or Kerala, rain mayhem can strike any part of the country and every year we lose billions of dollars in wastage and restoration. Yet, we have no permanent solution to stem this urban crisis that reeks of mismanagement and corruption. Huge money goes into repairing and managing the resources damaged by rains but the money is never used beforehand to spruce up the system so that the damage is checked before it strikes.
Rain, which is a matter of celebration everywhere, is a reason for fear here in India. Rain, which is a blessing for an agricultural country like ours, comes as a trauma to millions, who lose their farms and homes.
Violent floods in central India have tripled since 1950, according to researchers who have warned of worse to come in future. The region of about half-a-billion people is regularly stricken by flash floods, landslides and torrential rains that kill thousands and displace millions of people, as well as drowning crops and livestock.
India has a huge population that is prone to be ravaged by such weather extremes. Due to comparative poverty and lack of infrastructure and technology implementation we are lesser equipped to handle climatic exigencies than our western counterparts. In every case of unfortunate climatic mishap we are found wanting and dithering with a mishmash of various departments and organisations chipping in and muddling things up— none having a concrete and wholesome plan.
There is no coordinated synchronisation of action which could streamline the restoration and rehabilitation process on war footing. Help often reaches late as multiple departments fighting for their own space squabble to take the credit of doing the most and the best. In this melee, the common man suffers. Had we been more organised and disciplined in planning and action, we could ward off much of the dangers of flooding.
And there is no effort at course correction. We are still not in the habit of pre-planning and taking pre-emptive action against possible dangers. At a time of rapid climatic degeneration and global warming, we must be ever ready to face every situation with efficiency and alacrity so that there is minimal loss to life and property. Isn’t it a shame that despite making enviable strides in satellite technology which makes weather predictions so easy and accurate, we still are unable to save precious lives from preventable causes?
We have all the resources in hand yet on the ground implementation is poor. Often rampant constructions are carried on in violation of environment norms that cause flash flooding and other such unnatural occurrences. Our warning systems need to be upgraded and updated and early preparedness to battle out natural calamities in line with the best practices of the world should be ensured. We don’t need to wait for an emergency to get our actions together. Through constant drills and mock exercises we should always be in a state of readiness.
It is human callousness, corruption and lack of national feeling in officials and leaders that are at the root of this traditional bane we suffer. If we protect our environment by measures like planting trees, regulating settlements and constructions in forestland or hills or riverbanks etc, we can tame the adverse effects of nature’s undulations effectively. Urgent corrective measures are important because in the days to come, we are going to be face to face with more violent, more intense and more frequent of natural disasters which can kill millions in one go.