My previous section dealt with India’s political and civic under-preparedness regarding water scarcity. But now I want to talk of the other extreme, as to our under-preparedness in the case of floods, in the realm of disaster management which is wider and includes earthquakes for which too India is not prepared and diseases etc., as witnessed to in the recent Kerala floods situation where people rallied together beautifully surprising the whole world but the question that went a-begging was why it happened as well as how it could have been prevented. We need to think of how it should not happen again in the future for which the hands of governments have to be forced now as they hold the treasury. Other states in India are even less well equipped to deal with disasters of such magnitude and such a large scale crises of facing nature’s ‘fury.’ The lesson we learn is that everything we think of as constructive tor destructive are actually two edged swords and our provisional methods to deal with it for what we think are progress, development, safety, security, improvement, betterment etc., are not necessarily that being time bound and not sometimes long term enough in foresight. For instance when communities settled by riversides naming them holy it was as plentiful water solved their many problems but slowly it was found to pollute the rivers and make them unholy or not fresh and the blessing of plentiful water turned into a curse bringing diseases. We need water for drinking, for cleaning ourselves, for irrigation and agriculture and later we need it for making energy and electricity, storing and collection for the times hen it may not rain etc., but finally the big ideas thought up like dams and water turbines are shown to be short sighted and even dangerous too as proved this time in Kerala when the catchment areas overflowed due to unsuspected heavy rainfall and the damns had to be let loose into rivers and lands wreaking havoc making us realise the unpredictable can happen despite science. We think linking rivers and diverting them will solve India’s problems of water scarcity but we do not know if in the future it will cause even greater catastrophe as we are playing with the very foundations of earth’s tectonic plates in doing things like that. We need to see oceans and rivers and rain as resources with limitations now and not worship but replenish them
As a thinker of some sobriety I know that mankind will often plumb for the easier ways and not care for the future generations but to sit back and not see that governments and bureaucracy was not to blame in the disasters now going on in Kerala and Nagaland and Karnataka and Telangana as well as previous ones is to miss the wood for the trees. Truth is Congress, Marxists and BJP are to blame and the answer is to not depend on governments but on anarchic syndicalism by which I mean people ruling themselves by forming people’s groups that address these issues and going ahead by solving it themselves, even on a ‘guerilla’ footing of activism if need be.
An example of such activism is already there in Silent River by Rachel Carson and in our own Chipko movement and of course in books like One Straw Revolution but it is seldom there in religions except perhaps native American Indian ones as something clearly set out to follow.
The first solution now is not direct. It is to vote out the BJP as they are inimical to nature’s interests being and continuing in the same mode as Congress has followed disastrously from the time of Narasimha Rao whether in their approach to so called red terror which is bunkum or to capitalism which is raping the earth, in this case one’s own land, India for profit shown in refusing foreign aid but not foreign investment in the time of the floods for instance, in Kerala.
When we say vote out BJP it means precisely that and it does not mean vote in someone else in a scattered way. Democrats will stupidly say freedom is to let people vote for anyone but what is needed now is not liberalism’s soft Hindutva options in India but facing the next election with this mind
a. all should vote.
b. no NOTA
c. no votes for BJP
d. all votes against them for only one party, in this case due to lack of choice, Congress.
e. no votes for any other party at Centre.
f. all should get registered to vote and do it
Why do we need this change – we need it badly as the people as we can force a government that is Congress at the centre to bring in legislation that will save our waterbodies, our irrigation, that can make dams safer, can ensure fresh water and clean water, that can store and collect, that can purify, that can bring in change in drinking and prices and rivers and everything else wheres BJP is not at all interested in such things but only in absolutely irrelevant matters. Congress can be forced. Congress can be made to not build dams or rebuild them better or not link rivers or link them safely or opt out of such engineering and contract bound follies and out of sand mining and stone quarrying and wood cutting and soil erosion by tree planting etc. We need a weak government that that can be brought to obey us, that can be brought to its knees, so to speak, and not a strong one that is also ignorant if we are to solve water issues or natural disasters or climate change problems or global warming or the carbon footprint or the rent in the ozone layer or garbage issues or plastic issues or deforestation or any of these other major ones whether in plenitude or scarcity. we need to destroy the bogey in the land and make it ours again and then go into ideas like RECYCLING FRESH WATER, rain harvesting etc., in full force.
I hope it is clear that we need the Congress again and not BJP and that too for a long time if we are to sort out the mistakes of the past as well as also ensure that in the future they are not repeated.
We need to be aware of such articles as the one given below and not dismiss them blindly.
Thus we need to familiarize ourselves and our children with a whole new (and old) set of terms in this situation
Disaster, natural calamity, floods, earthquakes, landslides, sea rage etc.
Relief or disaster funding
Maybe a novel can be written on the likes of Arundhati Roy’s “Ministry of Utmost Happiness” called Ministry of Disaster Management or the Lack Thereof.
Heena Mehta’s somewhat balanced account of what went wrong in Kerala is worth reading as she says: “If only the government had paid attention to the alarm bells, the scale of this tragedy could have been mitigated.”
“In hindsight, water experts are saying that the intensity of Kerala floods could have been reduced if the water from 35 big dams in Kerala was released much earlier. Kerala blamed neighbouring Tamil Nadu for the floods in the Supreme Court on Friday, saying the gates of Mullaperiyar dam were suddenly opened without any warning, a claim denied by Tamil Nadu government.
What has happened in Kerala poses a bigger question regarding flood management in India considering that around 15% of India’s land mass is prone to floods, with an average of 1,548 people losing their lives and around eight million hectares getting affected, causing loss of about Rs 5,628 crore every year. The 5,254 dams in India are an integral part of flood management, apart from storing water for irrigation and generating power.
5,254 dams, not all flood-ready
The 5,254 dams in India are an integral part of flood management, apart from storing water for irrigation and generating power. A 2017 CAG report submitted in Parliament said that there is emergency action plan for only seven percent of these dams. For the 61 in Kerala, there is none.”
Even as I am writing this article other issues like the outbreak of rat fever which are a result of the floods as well as the discovery of rare species on land and in water appearing where they usually don’t or disappearing from natural habitats and the question of livestock and their deaths all haunt the state. There is going to be a long journey to normalcy but the pressing questions remain that while rebuilding there should be no second act to this play and lessons have to be learnt here of how these scenes should not keep recurring throughout India. The solution cannot be politically biased but has to come from all for the best of all concerned or it will be as if all this playing into the hands of some bizarre idea that population reduction is good for the nation whether by water scarcity or water in its ungovernable outbreaks.