Disaster management agencies need to have a pan-India outlook - GulfToday

Disaster management agencies need to have a pan-India outlook

Floods in India

An aerial view shows a flooded residential area after heavy rains in Ahmedabad, India. Reuters

The erratic nature of the monsoons in the last few years in India is of grave concern. And the destruction caused by the monsoon floods is alarming. As for people in Kerala it is close to a repeat of the devastation it witnessed last year. According to reports it is the worst hit region so far, so much so that thousands are being shifted to emergency camps , and the Kochi international airport had to be shut down for a couple of days (“Death toll from India floods rises to 95,” Aug. 11, Gulf Today).

After last year’s havoc, Kerala seemed better prepared to deal with the situation this time around, but the main cause of the problem still remains unresolved. Various experts had pointed out that rampant construction activity in eco-sensitive zones, uncontrolled quarrying, destruction of forests, wetlands and mangroves in the name of development were some of the causes behind the calamity last year. Have any measures been taken on that front? Not much progress there.

No doubt, last year’s flooding which killed over 450 people was the worst the state witnessed in a century, and god willing it will not be as severe this season. But unless the government gets serious on the environmental front, such disasters will continue to plague the state.

Kerala apart, heavy rainfall has also wreaked havoc in Karnataka and Maharashtra. Despite the state government, the armed forces and disaster management agencies doing commendable rescue missions, we still hear of precious lives being lost. The other rather unusual occurrence is that extreme rainfall and flooding has also affected some other states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Assam and Madhya Pradesh. What all this means is that disaster management agencies will now need to have a pan-India outlook, and need to work on broader parameters.

Vivek Khatri
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