The catastrophic floods that inundated the city of Chennai for several days have almost receded. Millions of people, who were affected by the deluge, now face the challenges of epidemic and the shortage of drinking water. People do not recollect this much devastating floods in their times.
What is alarming is the impending danger that stalks around Kerala. Not even a city in the state is free from the danger of floods if it rains continuously for a day. The incessant rain may be due to the climate change or global warming.
The Kerala cities have no systematic underground drainage system, nor do they have well defined public sanitary system. What makes the things worse is the lack of town planning. The wetlands are busily converted into soil filled lands and evidently the water channels are blocked. Of course, the net result is flooding and ground water depletion.
Fifteen years back, the city of Kozhikode, the third largest city in Kerala, had ample wetlands and mangroves stretching Mavoor Road to Thondayad, an area spanning around four kilometers, approximately. To the imminent threat for the lives of one million people, the entire area has been turned into an array of multi storied buildings. The much hyped city of Kochi is not an exception. Trikkakara panchayath that is close to Ernakulam city, once a fertile land with full of vegetation, has become an arid land of sky scrapers, thanks to multinational IT companies. No less is the situation in other parts of the state.
The flooding, downpour and rising temperature may be due to the climate change. But it is also a byproduct of manmade counterproductive activities. What has happened in one of the four larger cities now is not just the fury of the nature, but an eventual boomerang of what the people has been doing to it -- a potential danger Kerala has to encounter.
Not less is the role of climate change. Barak Obama is right to say that “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change”. It is a coincidence that the world powers are meeting in Paris to reach an agreement on curbing carbon emission.
We had a moderate climate throughout the year with the temperature falling between 22C to 28C -- rightly we call our place as God’s own country. Even during the summer days, the temperature would not go up beyond 35C, nor will it drop down below 22C. But it is the tale of bygone days. Now the situation has changed. We have 28C to 34C even in the autumn days. The incidents of sun burn have become common during the summer days.
These things are not a revelation or surprise news. But we are quite unmoved of it. And we will continue to be so until an impending disaster pounds over us. As W H Auden says, something is going to fall like rain, and it won’t be flowers.