Rains in Kerala have receded providing the much-needed breathing space for the government. It’s heartening to see that many a helping hand is coming forward to help the state meet the exigencies of the calamity. In fact, the entire nation should stand by them.
So far, Kerala government’s top priority has been to focus all its energies on rescuing lives, but the real massive task begins now. The Army, the Navy and the Airforce and other organisations have extended good cooperation to it. Now is the time for it to show administrative skills and ensure that the impact of the post-flood is minimal. A pall of gloom has descended on the state going through great distress. Thousands are still languishing in relief camps across Kerala, not knowing how to rebuild their lives. Houses have been destroyed and livelihoods are lost. The immediate challenge is to prevent spread of diseases, clear debris and sanitise the affected areas.
Any laxity could lead to outbreak of communicable diseases and epidemic like diarrhoea, leptospirosis and malaria etc. People have been wading through water which is highly contaminated and can cause bacterial infection. Another major challenge for the government is to provide clean drinking water. With 13 out of 14 districts ravaged by floods, it’s certainly a herculean task. Skilled labour is not easy to come by and the government needs to find and engage civil society, NGOs – national and international – on a large-scale. Proper and prompt distribution of tonnes of food grains and clothes dispatched by various state governments is a major issue. Volunteers are needed to help people with relief and rehabilitation on a war-footing.
The scale of disaster that struck the God’s Own Country should raise alarm for other states to evolve long-term measures to mitigate loss of lives and property. A massive survey of ecologically-sensitive zones needs to be taken up and measures initiated at once to erect green walls to protect them. Gadgil Committee has already spelt out what needs to be done to stave off eventualities, particularly Kerala-type catastrophe. The governments should review their mining and afforestation programmes. Strict restrictions should be imposed on mining, quarrying, even as efforts are made for creating world-class cities that do not impinge on forest lands. Reckless destruction of environment and greener will only invite nature’s fury with increasing ferocity.
Hyderabad in Telangana and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh are on the brink of a disaster. Even moderate rains lead to severe water logging, inundate houses in low-lying areas, damage roads and trigger huge traffic snarls. One would shudder to imagine should the rains become more intense and fiercer.
In the last four years, the Telangana government has been waxing eloquent on the awards GHMC has bagged and how efforts are on to make Hyderabad a global city; however, facts on the ground speak otherwise. It would have been appreciable if the government had at least taken up some pilot project to showcase how it plans to tackle the severity of rains and their aftermath. Apparently, there seems to be some laxity somewhere. Hope the Kerala floods would wake up authorities from slumber.