Monsoon Mayhem Grips Nation

Narayan Upadhyay

 

The country is currently reeling under monsoon havoc as scores of people have lost their lives and properties worth billions of rupees have gone down the drain. Many vulnerable, and the poor have been displaced. Almost all the districts of the Terai have been hit hard by floods and inundation that have caused a heavy toll on the life and properties of the locals. Many parts of the hill and mountain regions have also been hit by landslides leading to deaths and displacement of the several people.
The consequences of the monsoon induced disasters have indeed left a telling impact on the life of poor. Many of the vulnerable poor people living in their scanty accommodation in the hill and Terai have to suffer a lot which has forced them to search for shelters and foods on their own. Many poor people residing in villages have lost their houses, cattle and livestock, arable land to the floods, inundation and landslips. At many places, the government relief does not reach to these vulnerable masses.
Besides posing greater peril to the lives of the people, the natural disasters have a long term effect: the poor victims will become poorer while the adverse impact of the natural calamities on infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools, electricity supply lines, airports, hospitals and many others would give a telling blow to the economy of the country.
Almost every monsoon time, several parts of the nation are exposed to the vagaries of the monsoon rains. All the rivers of Nepal, both big and small, swell to their maximum to pose danger to the people and their settlements as well as the vital infrastructure. As our nation’s geography is gradient- sloping towards south from the north, the rivers flowing from north to south create a havoc-like situation. The heavy rains, which become a common sight during monsoon, cause landslips in the hills that also cause rivers to swell at some places and to dam at other places. The southern plains often experiences floods and inundation after the swelling rivers in the hills and mountains reaches the Terai plains. The swollen rivers breach their banks and embankments and water gushes into the settlements and arable land turning it into heaps of sediments.
There are several reasons that the natural disaster in the nation turn into a catastrophe of a higher magnitude like the present one. The failure on the part of our authority to remain prepared to tackle the challenges of the disasters like floods and landslips one of the fundamental reasons that lead to loss of life, properties and infrastructure at many places.
The required level of preparedness appears to be lacking. A common tendency witnessed during the disaster time in that the authority wakes up to the disasters only when they cause damages. This seems to be the case at present time when monsoon mayhem has gripped the several parts of the nation.
The weather department had forecast that heavy rains would lash several parts of the nation for many days. And whenever such predictions are made, the authority must pull its act together to take up the challenges of the heavy downpour and its aftermath.
Whenever heavy downpours lash any part of the country, few things do happen: It would swell the rivers passing through the mountains and hills to the southern plains and are likely to flood many areas down south. According to some disaster experts, the concerned authorities are often informed about the parts which would suffer through floods and inundation.
By closely looking at the weather forecast, one may clearly glean the idea about the lurking humanitarian crises like loss of life and properties, displacement of the people and outbreak of diseases in the areas hit by floods and inundation. Despite all the forecast made just before the present calamity, the authority appears to be unable to mobilise resources and forces to counter the disaster before they had struck. So much so that the authority appears to have failed to aware the people, especially the poor ones living in the vulnerable places who lack information about the lurking danger.
Lack of resources, technology and manpower has often caused delay in launching rescue and relief operation to save the life and properties of the vulnerable masses during the disaster time. On the other hand, poor coordination among the government agencies and ministries too pose a hindrance in launching timely rescue and relief works.
The recent decision of the government to stop the private and individual organisations in distributing relief packages on their own to the disaster victims appear to be a wrong one, especially at a present time when the stupendous amount of relief is required to meet the demand. The Home Ministry’s decision would not only discourage many Good Samaritans and philanthropic non government organisations to distribute relief goods directly to the victims who are in greater need for basic items such as food, clothes, drinking water, tents and other items.
In the meantime, the Nepali authority’s abject failure in taking up timely measures to inform and coordinate with the foreign diplomatic missions has also caused the inundation of the Nepali land and danger to the life of the Nepali people. Experts in Nepal say that Nepal often faces grave flood and inundation in the southern plains due to the construction of small and big dams by the Indian side along the Nepal-India border.
The Nepalese authority must expedite diplomatic channels to help keep the doors of the dams along the Nepal-India border open during the high monsoon time. Though the Indian side would not prefer to open the dam doors always owing to the reasons they know better, but the Nepali side must undertake all the measures, including mobilisation of the diplomatic channel, to ask the Indian side to help Nepal in the time of crises.
A nation can save the lives of its citizens and the properties of the people and of the country by taking many precautionary steps before any disaster strikes. The present scale of death and loss of property could not have happened, had the government authority taken preventive measures such as protecting river banks, making people at vunerable places aware about the danger. The mobilisation of the rapid response teams, resources and forces to face off the disaster challenge. Launching of rescue and relief operations in time can prevent further loss of life and property. Likewise, the government authority must launch measures to save the people from the likely outbreak of diseases and epidemics. The idea behind any government measures must be aimed at saving the people from losing life and properties. For achieving this goal, the government must coordinate with all the concerned agencies and stakeholders.


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