(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)
Nature makes an exciting study. No use in blaming nature for natural disasters.
Devastation on account of floods is manmade disasters; not natural disaster. The U.S and China besides many advanced nations suffer annually from nature’s phenomenon. India is no exception.
Not a single year passes without media hyping the trail of devastation and destruction caused by the fury of floods due to even below normal rainfall nowadays. Even the best planners in the U.S. in Houston with the best drainage systems in place could not prevent flood waters submerging roads and stalling traffic for days in 2016. So also, devastation in China recently.
In India, the blame game erupts with the onset of monsoon season in one place or another.
In 2013, it was Uttarkhand; Srinagar in 2014; Gujarat (June) and Chennai (November) in 2015; and in Bengaluru and Delhi cities in 2016. Of course, floods in Assam are an annual feature due to the curse of Brahmaputra River.
Follows the fury of blame game to include: Central government blames China, Nepal and Bhutan; State governments blames central government or Municipal Corporations or neighboring states; PWD blames traffic police; people blame politicians and vice versa; and so on.
Just as the rain fury abates so also the blame game fury abates in media. Loss of lives and damages to properties are forgotten sooner than later.
Manmade disasters; but not natural disasters! Let none suffer from illusions on the above count.
If Bengaluru or Hyderabad or any other city or town known for water bodies turn into a sea of water (polluted), who are responsible and accountable for it?
The local governments and people are squarely responsible and accountable for it over the past 67 years. How and why did they allow illegal encroachments to take place in the first instance in water bodies and legalized later?
Illegal encroachments of lakes and low lying areas continue besides phenomenal corruption of recarpeting roads and enhancing drainage capacity.
Why should potholes appear if the road is laid or re-carpeted using the right mix of high-tech material?
Why should roads and bridges get washed away if the drainage pattern is followed properly allowing for natural streams and rivulets to run their natural course and bridges or culverts of appropriate dimension with proper abutments are designed and constructed?
Choked drains, swollen rivers, roads turned into canals, traffic jams, pot holes, bridges damaged, etc., is the usual story.
In reality, all the natural streams and rivulets have been turned into “multi storied” high-rise buildings in almost all cities and towns. So, where will the rain water flow? Naturally, rain water will flood the streets and flow into the ground floor apartments and parking places for the media with glee showing floating cars, furniture and even snakes.
People are also squarely responsible. Why did those properties from the real estate devils without first ascertaining that the properties are not in low lying areas legally or illegally encroached without adequate rain water drainage facilities.
On top of it, the clogging of existing drainage systems with plastic bags strewn all over. Who is responsible for it?
Dream big, no doubt; but don’t attempt to build castles in the air. One cannot simply do it.
Categorization of tropical storms such as cyclones (Indian Ocean), hurricanes (Western Atlantic and Eastern Pacific) and typhoons (Western Pacific) are annual features. Mankind has to co-exist with them.
Viewed in such a context, the concept of “Smart Cities” is another hoax being played out by political leadership having converted such well laid out cities like New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and others as nightmares.
To redress the situation, which has now become incredibly complicated, it is not easy.
For example, vast tracts in the cities have become “Cement Jungles” with barely any earth surface remaining to absorb rain water. Commonsense dictates that the rain water gushes onto the roads that convert them into canals and rivers.
Barely one inch of rainfall clogs and converts the key Panjagutta junction in Hyderabad into a virtual nightmare. No need for cloud bursts or heavy rainfall. Traffic jams and snarls become a common feature season after season and year after year. All the rain water and the sewerage from overflowing drainage systems flow on to the roads from the neo rich colonies of Banjara Hills and Srinagar colonies.
Yet, sanction is being accorded to more high-rise complexes in the above areas without first providing basic drainage facilities. Also, all the lakes and rivulets have disappeared in the area.
No need to single out an example. If one looks for one in the neighborhood, one would find quite a few examples.
And, it is not easy to rectify the past blunders howsoever one may attempt.
Of course, the usual mumbo jumbo (create confusion to divert attention from real issues) or rhetoric follows.
Meteorologists blame “Climate change” and “El Nino” effects (tropical storms in some parts and drought in others parts) for such annual occurrences. Quite common for political leaders to blame the “Rain God” to whom they pray for rains to come before the monsoon season. Such is the ironic or quixotic drama enacted to fool people.
That brings me to the folly of mankind: “None learns from lessons of history; lessons repeat themselves monotonously; and the live goes on as usual in almost all nations including the U.S., China just like in India. It is the justification that one can draw solace.