Will it be correct to surmise that about a million Keralites rendered refugees by the flood waters rushing out of dozens of dams suffered a man-made tragedy more than a natural calamity? How long can the state government leadership shirk ownership of its acts of omission and commission by hiding behind commendations about how the state stood united while combating such a huge disaster? Because, renowned disaster experts from across the country have already started calling it a human blunder.
One that has so far claimed a few hundred lives and will cost the state exchequer not less than Rs 25,000 crore in rebuilding. No doubt, a part of this cost is going to be borne by the victims too, as additional taxes.
Now that the rescue operations have drawn to a close, the knives are out, not only from the opposition parties but even from a section of LDF’s own elected representatives. At the receiving end is the government. It is not as if the government was not put on notice about the dangers of holding water in its dams for too long.
In our issue dated August 12, this newspaper had implored those in charge of the dams, especially the KSEB, about the compulsion to be on the same page as the people living downstream—an appeal that fell on deaf ears. It was politically incorrect to make public these home truths. Not anymore.
There is no denying that dams were filled to the brim before the shutters were opened, with very little time given to evacuate those living downstream. No thought was spared to the vicious ferocity with which the waters inundated houses, killing people instantly and wreaking havoc on their dwellings. Strange that a state, for long worried about the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam, neither had any standard operating procedure in place or if it had, failed to execute it. The coming days will decide if criminal negligence by at least a few in power can be camouflaged by showcasing the resilience and solidarity shown by a beleaguered public while facing an exceptional crisis. The floodgates have been opened.