Kerala rain damage is for lessons not learnt

These numbers should serve as a stark reminder of how danger lurks every time it rains.
Kerala floods: An image from the aerial survey conducted by CM Pinarayi Vijayan and team.
Kerala floods: An image from the aerial survey conducted by CM Pinarayi Vijayan and team.

Kerala is among the wettest states. Yet, when the rainy season starts, authorities are never prepared for the typically relentless downpour. Even before the onset of monsoon this year, the heavier-than-usual summer rainfall had cities, towns and villages flooded, and people had to be evacuated at many places. While rain-related damage has recurred in Kerala, the scale of destruction has been expanding over the last decade. That’s why it becomes increasingly relevant to be prepared for both seasonal and unseasonal showers. The devastating 2018 floods and a near-repeat in 2019 showed Kerala’s rainfall pattern is no longer predictable. It’s then shocking that the concerned authorities choose to ignore their responsibility of preparing the land and the people for the consequences.

While the 2018 deluge claimed nearly 500 lives and rendered lakhs homeless, more than 125 people were killed in floods and landslides in 2019. In 2021, around 125 lives were lost in rain-related incidents, and 19 people died in incidents linked to pre-monsoon showers between May 19 and 30 this year. These numbers should serve as a stark reminder of how danger lurks every time it rains.

Every past tragedy has a lesson, but the way people have been left to suffer shows the authorities have failed to learn any. This year, too, mandatory pre-monsoon works like cleaning drains and removing garbage from public places have been given a go-by. Accumulation of garbage and the shrinking capacity of drains are major factors contributing to urban flooding. Besides, there has not been sufficient progress in long-term flood mitigation projects, planned mainly as part of the post-2018 Rebuild Kerala initiatives.

More shocking, however, are the excuses offered for not doing the pre-monsoon checks. For example, Kochi mayor M Anilkumar said canal cleaning could not be completed on time as he was preoccupied with the Lok Sabha election. Earlier, minister M B Rajesh had offered a similar excuse for poor waste management over the last two months. The leaders are answerable to those they represent and their official responsibilities should take priority over political loyalties, as their lack of commitment to their duties could have serious consequences. Kerala must wake up to the reality of climate change and always be ready to deal with the consequences so as to minimise the damage.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com