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Get geared for service, and prepared for the long term

Get geared for service, and prepared for the long term

Kerala is in the grip of excess monsoon rains of a scale never experienced in recent years.

Torrential rain and inundating rivers have created a huge crisis. Opening the floodgates of two dams including Idukki has compounded the hardship in low lying regions. And in higher altitudes, landslides happened of an unprecedented magniture. There has been no small loss of lives and property. Disaster relief steps are being undertaken with utmost vigilance. At the same time, there has been no decline in flood levels. Met sourcs forecast that heavy downpour will continue for some more time. In view of the extraordinary situation, the government has sought the help of military. The state government and istrict administrations have directed all their attention to providing relief, and the prime minister has informed that the Centre will render all assistance to the state. People are being transferred to relief centres. Overall, the state is on the edge of a big tragedy. The hour calls for every one's focus on urgent disaster relief. Although it may take time to get the exact figures of damage, even by preliminary estimates it is very huge. This calamity can be overcome only with hard work of government with the co-operation of the public, sacrifice by voluntary bodies and financial contributions by those who can. After all, natural calamities are occasions when insignificance of man and the greatness of human sacrifice come to the fore. It is indeed a test of humanity for the victims and no less so for others.

In the regions of Kuttanad and Wayanad, the damages are rampant and severe, and such regions deserve special damage relief packages. Reconstruction of collapsed buildings and mutilated roads alone will cause considerable financial liability, apart from relief funds for crop losses and related destruction. For all this, generous financial support will have to come from the Centre. Preparation of district level plans for disaster control and rehabilitation brooks no delay. When such steps take place to overcome the tragedy, something else should follow: this tragedy should take us to a realization – that reackless construction activities with no planning or forethought, and other forms of human intervention in nature, have aggravated the impact of the tragedy. The health issues that may emanate from heavy volumes of water descending downhill are another aspect.

Reasons for all this are many. This hour of flood should give us the awareness that one of those reasons is the development activities with no system or order. Streets witout drainage and unscientifically constructed buildings may serve well temporarily, but they are not fit for sustained living or survival. Experience tells us that even governments that spend crores for large scale development projects do not insist on being scientific in such matters. Nature's rage such as this are sufficient to hurl at governments and society the fundamental question as to what constitutes development. It is divine justice too that nature itself will question limitless maerial pusuits.

While pondering over efforts for reparation, we need to recognize that it is not a situation in Kerala alone. It is at the same time time when floods cause havoc in northeastern regions of India and China, that Africa, several Gulf and European countries, Japan and Canada suffer unprecedentedly high temperatures. In Australia, extensive agricultural areas experience severe drought due to heat and water scarcity. This dire experience of warmth and cold is something new to planet earth. Global warming and consequent climate change are staring at us in a way we cannot ignore. In July alone, as many as 118 all-time climate-related records have been made. When scientists had predicted all this, big powers and corporates turned a deaf year to them, but the monstrous turn of nature now is of a scale that even they cannot disregard. There can be no delay in correction and search of solutions. Every individual and society has something to do in this. Governmental machinery, right from panchayat level upwards, has much more than that to do. And that is one more lesson to be derived from the hardship we are suffering now.

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