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In the face of another flood threat

In the face of another flood threat

After days of lull, the monsoon has strengthened again in Kerala. The weather forecast the other day reported less rainfall in June-July by 26 percent. However, the ongoing heavy rainfall bespeaks a repeat of torrential rains happening usually in August.

Given Kerala's entrenching experience of heavy rains in the Malayalam months of Midhunam-Karkidakam and subsequent landslides, there needs more study to ascribe this to the climate change. Anyways, 'monsoon-calamities' to a greater or lesser degree are a constant problem in Kerala. No government has yet been successful in finding a permanent solution to it.

The Gadgil-Kasthurirangan reports and recommendations, offering scientific prevention of phenomena including rainstorms, which are deeply related to nature and environment, are still controversial issues.

None of the resolute left and right front governments have been able to implement the positive recommendations of the both reports, calmly taking on the emotional protests of the public. Alongside, disasters such as landslides, floods, and coastal erosion continue to be stronger.

The August 2018 floods were the most devastating in a century; apart from the loss of 483 lives, 15 people went missing alongside incurring damages worth four lakh crore rupees in the state. Where the 2018 floods affected the southern districts badly, the milder flood in 2019 affected the northern districts too. A total of 121 deaths were reported. The state administration has not yet been able to fully resolve the damages and losses of the two floods. Hundreds of families who were turned out homeless are still waiting for relief.

After two years, the state is again facing the threat of floods. 12 deaths have already been reported. Rivers are flowing above danger lines; many houses and huts have been completely or partially destroyed. The number of displaced families is also increasing.

Educational institutions in most districts have been shuttered. Rain alerts of varying intensity have been declared. Disaster management committees and other government agencies are on high alert. People are constantly being asked to be cautious. Living conditions in hills and coastal areas make it hard for people to follow these directions. These situations call for us to express humaneness above everything else.

The selfless services of the common Malayalis, including the fishermen during the last two floods were hailed as national model as well as gaining Kerala its reputation. The government machinery also effectively came into action. The rescuing of a pregnant woman stranded on the top of a house by a helicopter received warm greetings. The young man who offered his back to as footbench lying in the water to help a woman get into boat was widely praised. As well as praying for sparing another tragedy, we must also realize that the magnanimity to fulfill the social responsibility during an unexpected disaster makes one human being.

Kerala faces the spread of diseases and lack of treatment during monsoons in general, and particularly in the times of floods. While the covid pandemic is still not fully contained, monkeypox has emerged as a new threat. If it spreads during monsoons, the situation will be quite alarming. So far, monkeypox has been detected only in people coming from abroad. Considering the possibility of its spread, health workers and people need to be very careful. Kerala was not lucky enough to celebrate Onam properly in the past years. Let's hope and pray that the Malayali community will be able to celebrate the national festival in a peaceful and disaster-free environment this time.

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