Sunday, August 31, 2008

Phases of disillusionment..

Till date I have attended two national level meetings on disaster management where much was trumpeted about the "paradigm shift" from a "relief-centric approach" in disaster management to one based on "prevention, preparedness and mitigation".

STH is a year old now and after almost one year of badgering on doors of National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA), State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), the media and the powers that be for some sort of landslide preventive/mitigation measures to be implemented in these hills, I am convinced that the "paradigm shift" has only taken place in the rarefied atmosphere of air-conditioned offices of Centaur Hotel, Delhi where the (NDMA) is based.

Nothing has changed at the ground level and despite the "paradigm shift", our only landslide prevention/mitigation weapon till date remains fervent prayers in our churches/ gompas/ temples and mosques.

What a pity!

Placed below are excerpts from (link is here) and some comments by Rediff readers which echo my thoughts:-


'Tsunami of Bihar' could have been avoided

Sheela Bhatt

August 29, 2008 20:53 IST
Last Updated: August 30, 2008 14:43 IST

"These are not floods. This is worse than Tsunami [Images]," says Janta Dal-United President Sharad Yadav while talking to media persons about the devastation caused by the Kosi river, which flows from Nepal into India.

People, who have visited the affected areas, are amazed by the flooding in the most unexpected areas.

"Normally, residents of northern
Bihar are prepared for Kosi's fury. Boats are available in villages. When rains come, people keep few assets in houses. But this time, after some 125 years, Kosi entered new areas. Nobody was expecting Kosi to maroon them," says Sanjay Jha, resident of Patna.

Preventive measures not taken

It is shocking story of chalta hai (take it easy) attitude of the state and central government that has caused such misery to the people of Bihar.

By all accounts, Kosi has not fully flooded yet, says a source in
Kathmandu who has visited the area. If more rains hit the area in September then, the situation will be more dangerous than it is now.

Right now, the flooding is due to a break in some part of the embankment on the
Nepal side that has rushed in waters into India and displaced 50,000 Nepalis and more than 2 million Biharis.

"There seems to be slackness on both sides. It seems that even the mandatory repair work was not done," says Yubraj Ghimire, senior journalist, from Kathmandu.

"If the government of Bihar had conducted regular repair work in the dry season, this calamity could have been averted," says Indian source in Kathmandu.

Kosi's catchment area is massive and the river carries one of the highest amounts of slit in the world. As a result, Nepal is unable to benefit as expected in power generation.

"Nepali government should have been more helpful in helping repairs before August 18," says an Indian officer in Kathmandu.
Bihar government officials associated with the project informed the Indian embassy in Kathmandu only on August 18 of the difficulties faced by them. By that time it was too late and Kosi had changed its course to wreck entire the north-east part of 'Mithilanchal'.


comments by rediff readers

Prevention is the ONLY cure
by DV Nayak on Aug 30, 2008 11:56 PM Permalink | Hide replies

I think that is what we, the people, need to realise about disasters like this.
Either you prevent it or you face the consequences.
Blame game
by Ganesh on Aug 30, 2008 10:57 AM Permalink | Hide replies

Blame game is on. When CM made a statement on 17th August, center did not respond. The relief has been announced only on the day , PM visited Bihar. These guys play while public suffers. If everyone knows that Kosi swells ever year why can't canals be built to supply water to the other parts of the country like MP, North Maharstra etc.


The same old story.....
by Junaid Badshah on Aug 30, 2008 10:11 AM Permalink

Its the same old story again. The sufferers are the common people. I have personally endures during the floods in Surat..the last one being in 2006. To garner the votebank and to hog the limelight, a few relief packages were dropped by the army helicopters but is that enough? Its the same old story everywhere....there should have been enough precautions taken by the govt. in advance to avoid...why dont we learn our lessons even when the calamities are repeated time and again .... in different parts of the country..?? The condition at Ground Zero is much worse than shown by the media...the media does glorify the pain .. but actually its much much more....
Why doesnt the govts (central & state) act in a proactive manner anytime?? The Rs.1000 Crore relief now shouted out by the prime minister ... would this actually reach the affected people?? or will it find its way into the pockets of the babus--like its been for ages??
Change is whats needed now...else it will be too late....


For God's sake, set some accountability for Govt. bodies.....
by SS Kumar on Aug 30, 2008 09:42 AM Permalink

If the Indian Government means business, it should give marching orders to the members of the Disaster Management Council of India for dereliction of duty in Bihar. They were either virtually sleeping or had not done their home- work well in time. It is high time we had accountability standards established in India
instead of the "Sab Chalta Hai" attitude. Clearly, their dereliction of duty has result- ed in avoidable loss of several precious lives.
It should be as punishable as a motorist running over pedestrians. By punishing them, the GOI can show other government departments that it means business and will not tolerate lame excuses.

praful rao

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