• Friday 20th September 2019

Dealing with disasters

  • Published on: August 21, 2019



  • Natural calamities, accidents and negative impacts made by human error in the environment can take place in any country in any parts of the world at anytime. From the most developed nations to politically disheveled, economically chaotic and poverty stricken nations to more developed countries, all can suffer from such calamities whether natural or man-made, taking huge tolls on lives of humans and displacing many more of them. Naturally it is the poorer nations which suffer more due to obvious reasons. They don’t have good infrastructure to keep and feed the displaced people, no proper quick response teams, better equipments, and all the other things that does not come along with being a poor nation with corrupt leaders. On the other hand the richer and better run countries are better equipped to deal with such emergencies if and when it occurs.
    Nepal, unfortunately, lies along a natural earthquake fault, which means it sees occasional devastating earthquakes from time to time. But again unfortunately, even the most developed nations and best equipped systems, cannot predict such a calamity. In fact the powerful nations can trigger earthquakes by testing powerful bombs underground or deep in the seas to build up their armaments further. Still they are more prepared to deal with disasters, criminals and other such eventualities which they might have had to face. In fact the United States has deftly dealt with quakes, strong storms and floods, wildfires, excessive heat or extreme cold and even when some criminally minded people crashed huge passenger planes in its biggest city of New York, killing thousands of innocent people. Thousands of people died and are still suffering in neighbouring India when there was a leak in a nuclear plant there, but Japan had the facilities to deal better when a similar accident took place there in recent years. There are hundreds of examples of how the more developed countries have coped well with disasters than the poorer nations all across the globe.
    But still quakes are quakes and heaven forbid that such a devastation takes in any place, specially the poorer nations. On the other hand, storms and floods can be forecast so that the people are better prepared for it. With good planning and vision, things like landslides and negative environmental impacts can be controlled to a large extent.
    Nepal was struck by a huge quake some years ago in 2015 AD. Many people died, whole villages were destroyed and historical landmarks and cultural sites were brought down to the ground completely or partially. The rich heritage sites in capital Kathmandu, like Dharhara (Bhhimsen Tower), Rani Pokhari and the Gaddi Baithak in popular Basantpur Durbar Square were destroyed. About the earthquake, it just came out of the blue, but fortunately it was a Saturday and many more lives were saved because there was a comparatively lesser rush on this holiday when most offices are closed. But it is sad to see that historically important sites have not been restored and thousands are still without houses in the villages because the lack of rapid response, good planning and a system that works efficiently in crisis. But no one seems to care. Specially the politicians, bureaucrats, the government machinery and many of the so-called “do gooders”. Not even the human rights groups have pleaded on behalf of the innocent people who may have survived the quake but are living a destitute life.
    Instead the politicians are busy in diverting attention, bureaucrats busy in collecting commission, the police are neck deep in corrupt practices and big industrialists and businessmen in cheating taxes while making huge profits at the expense of the commoners and the country.
    But first to come to the politicians, why are they trying to divert the attention of the people in virtual non-issues while there is much work to be done in the country? Why are the expert planners and so called “cream of the nation” bureaucrats not showing any vision? There is nothing wrong in making long term plans, but the instant needs of the people should not be ignored as well.
    We all know that floods, inundation of villages and fields, destruction of property take place every year, but what is the government and its planners doing to resolve this problem faced by the common people during the Monsoon period? Shouldn’t we build stronger roads, make ready a really efficient quick response group comprising of security forces in the country? Shouldn’t we seek more cooperation from India, shouldn’t we start awareness programmes much ahead of the Monsoon rains rather than when it is going to end? What about the contractors who build weak bridges and roads that fall apart when the rains start coming?
    We are coming towards the end of this year’s Monsoon rains, and we have seen much destruction of lives and property. Isn’t this the time we should start planning and preparing for the next Monsoon so that we will be better positioned to deal with rains, which after all are needed to grow our crops?
    There is no need to spend billions of rupees like in buying new vehicles, building quarters for the ministers, going abroad for useless seminars and conferences?
    It is already a difficult situation for a tiny country like Nepal to be landlocked. Furthermore, it may be a boon for some, but it is a difficult task in dealing with problems when the tall mountain ranges, the inaccessible hills and land at almost sea level are crowded within a narrow strip of the country.
    “The people don’t want to move backwards, they want to move forward,” a wise political leader said a few days back. But the people can only move forward if the politicians become really honest and show the way, the bureaucrats serve the people, the police personnel really protect and not exploit innocent citizens and everyone including contractors and industrialists work honestly from their respective sides. Will this happen?

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