India may be a poor country but it is rich enough in financial resources to be able to do a good job of containing the damage caused by the floods.
The helplessness of man against natural disasters is not any more acute in India than elsewhere in the world. The question is what more can we do by way of preparedness to prevent loss of life. Climate change may be a reason why such extreme weather events are occurring year after year in various parts of the world, but for the first time in recent years Kerala is being peppered with extraordinarily copious rainfall in the monsoon as it revived in August after its early arrival. There were no warnings of excessive rainfall this season with even the national Met office predicting only a normal southwest monsoon. The point is area-specific forecasts of heavy rainfall can be more useful than just general alerts, which our meteorologists have been unable to provide with any degree of accuracy. Our micro forecasting has never been up to the mark. The onus then is on rescue and relief work after the event.
True, the events have been unprecedented in Kerala this monsoon with more than 20 dams surplusing and the scenario frightening as 7.5 lakh litres water per second are exiting the Cheruthoni dam which will endanger the downstream areas of the Periyar river even more. This is the first time in history that the five sluices of the Idukki dam are being opened during the southwest monsoon season itself, which indicates just how much rainfall there has been since May-June this year. The danger of the gushing waters submerging towns has to be faced. But this is no worse than New Orleans facing the brunt of a hurricane or cities in California facing wild fires, all of which points again to how ill-equipped man is in facing the fury of nature. And Kerala’s water engineers can do little but save the dams and let the downstream areas bear the brunt.
The fact is Kerala is a developed state with an important bearing on the economy as its people working abroad have been the biggest contributors by way of inward remittances. But it cannot stand on prestige and not accept the various offers of help from other states, which are sending money or materials to help with the rescue and rehabilitation efforts. The Centre has responded with armed forces and the NDRF helping with the rescue but the tasks can be enormous in the next few days considering the amount of water that is going to be flowing out of the Idukki reservoir alone. There have been instances in Indian history when the offer of help from other states has been declined because of politics. This will not apply as Kerala’s progressive chief minister would accept that federalism will be served by states coming together like this at least in times of calamities. India may be a poor country but it is rich enough in financial resources to be able to do a good job of containing the damage caused by the floods.