The recent incessant rains and the cloud burst resulted in a havoc in the northern India. Hundreds or say thousands of lost their life, thousands are stranded and property worth millions have been lost in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. But is it only the cloud burst and incessant rains that can be held responsible for this? Though most of the readers would say Yes and flag the entire happening to the Natural Calamity. I differ though as I carry a different opinion.
The devastation in these two states was in waiting. Why? Please look at the following facts -
- Government in the two states never were prepared to tackle such calamities
- Eco Sensitive zones were breached and the Ruling Political Parties were responsible for that
- Construction near or around the banks of rivers like Ganga and Alaknanda left little space and the catchment areas of the river were found to be shrinking. This is somewhere similar to the way Mumbai has seen Govt bucking under the pressure and reclaiming the marsh land to let them build residential and commercial complexes. Lessons were not learned from Mumbai which sees flooding every season in specifically such areas that have been reclaimed!!!!
- The NDRF, supposedly well equipped to run rescue operations is not at all equipped with its own fleet or there is little or no coordination with the fleet management organization...Huge gap in the communication and cooperation between the two organizations....As if we didn't take any lessons from 26/11 where 12 hrs worth efforts were stretched for more than 3 days resulting in loss of many lives
- Lack of adequate provisions at both state and national levels to be ready in time to run the rescue operations
- The inhabitants who lived in and around those areas are equally responsible to have not taken precautionary steps to evacuate in time and waiting till the last moment
The above stated points mainly are the ones that turned the natural disaster in one of the worst to have hit northern India resulting in loss of life as well as infrastructure.
I have heard many horror stories from various quarters and news channels including one from my closest family. They were on their trip to Kedarnath shrine and due to rains and landslide were stuck on their way. There was no sight of Govt. help, whatever damage control was done was done by a group of youngsters who patched the roads to have paved way for vehicular traffic. They put themselves at risk to help others. The family somehow managed to reach Rudra Prayag and was awake all night for the River Alaknanda flowing besides their hotel was at full swing and the sound scared them more than the red alert warning sounded by local administrative body. The youngest kid in that family narrated to me what he saw and mentioned the way he witnessed the houses, hotels and humans as were swept by the water. Though the way a 7 or 8 year old kid would narrate might sound sweet to some, but it might on the contrary have devastating impact on the young mind in long run....
So, looking at the state of affairs and the small narration from the family that suffered as they were stranded without Food "without administrative aide", one can just look at the inept administrative teams and wonder how could they be so inept. People seem to claim that the NDRF has highly trained resources, but then even they were stuck in Haridwar for major part waiting to be airlifted to run the rescue operations.....
My point is why can't govt and administration have adequate steps taken well in advance? Why can't one heed to the Met department's forecast? Why can't we build effective communication and cooperation strategies? Why can't NDRF be fully equipped to run operations single handedly? Why should we wait till last minute for Disaster to happen? Why can't we run a mock drill before the season starts and have the required resources tested and take away learning from these test to solidify our mechanism?
If we would wait for the disaster to happen, they would certainly be more devastating as we would not actually be prepared to face them. We might have best of the teams and best of the devices to carry out after disaster operations, but the success is to be able to contain the impact and not let disaster make a clean sweep!!!!!!
June 22, 2013 - Added the Pic as found similarities between my article and the Graphics
Pic Courtesy - Sunil Singh, I downloaded the pic from Facebook where it was shared.