EC's attitude inscrutable
Cyclone Fani has assumed an extremely severe form and is advancing towards Odisha, the coastal districts...
Cyclone Fani has assumed an extremely severe form and is advancing towards Odisha, the coastal districts including Srikakulam and Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh along its projected path have gone on high alert. The cyclone could be as severe as Hudood and is likely to play havoc in East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts.
The winds could touch a speed of anything ranging from 75 to 200 kms in the Odisha and around 75-150 kmph in coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. Yellow messages have already been issued to the districts that would bear the brunt of the cyclone.
But the saddest part is that the Election Commission which had agreed to lift the election code for Odisha has somehow not made the same rules applicable to the north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. Political rivalries, attitude of vendetta is all fine in the political battle field.
But when human life and property is at danger and when a natural disaster is waiting to strike hard, both the Centre and the EC should have shown magnanimity and lifted the ban at least till the cyclone was over so that it could have enabled the political system to monitor the impending danger and act in time and ensure that the entire government machinery was geared up to put up a united fight against the possible damage the cyclone may cause.
Emergency measures to reduce loss of life and property alone is not enough. There should be a proper action plan in place to provide a helping hand after the cyclone land fall takes place leaving behind a trial of disaster. There could be many issues like shortage of drinking water, health related problems, out break of epidemics etc. All this needs constant monitoring by the chief minister and his team of cabinet ministers. Unfortunately, call it enmity or anything, Andhra Pradesh is being badly discriminated against.
Even in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, the Chief Secretary is reporting to the Chief Minister. There the EC does not object. But in Andhra where polling is over, EC appears to be adamant not to allow any review. If bureaucrats could take all decisions and can run the administration, then there is no need to spend so many thousands of crores on elections. There is no need even for Prime Minister. Let the bureaucracy rule.
It is really puzzling to understand the attitude of the Election Commission. Its role in real terms is only to provide level playing field for all parties so that the elections can be held in a free and fair manner. But in this election, the EC seems to be adopting different yardsticks for different states. If all are one before the law how can EC discriminate in the manner it is doing. Disaster mitigation is not a child's play. It is really shocking that the EC is playing with lives of so many people.
With the met advisory predicting a wind speed of more than 170 km along with heavy rains at the time of landfall, quick action teams should be kept ready to clear roads of debris, enumerate the loss of human life and that of cattle, enumerate the loss of crops and damage to public and private property, restore electric supply and water supply etc.
Apart from the revenue officials, various departments like engineers and linemen of the electricity department, fire department, civil supplies, medical and health, police and irrigation departments have to be kept ready.
Having a set of rules and following rule book will not help. Some instant decisions have to be taken which could relate to finances as well and that the officials cannot do. Does not the EC know this? Centre of course has put navy on high alert and has sent NDRAF teams and has released about Rs 200 crore but unless there is someone to monitor the progress of cyclone, assess the damage and take instant decisions, it would be a tough task.
Even now its not too late. Hopefully, the EC will show humanitarian consideration and respond to the appeal of the Chief Minister and lift the code for some time so that the government can take charge of the situation.