We need to graduate from flood-relief to flood-control

It's that time again. In the last three days alone, floods in North Karnataka have taken 156 lives (officially), rendered tens of thousands homeless and destroyed lakhs of acres of agricultural crop. In the decreasing order of deaths reported stand Bijapur, Bagalkote, Raichur, Gulbarga, Koppal, Bellary, Davangere, Chitradurga, Gadag, Belagavi, Uttara Kannada, Bidar and Dharwad. These districts cover nearly 50% of the total land area of Karnataka. The flood has hit Andhra Pradesh too, but the losses there are considerably lower.

Hundreds are dying in Karnataka as I write this, and tens of thousands losing everything they have. Let's not forget this: we are experiencing a bloody, huge, flood.

The whole pattern of heavy rain followed by water released by dams in Maharashtra, followed by Government of Karnataka applying to the Central Government for help for even petty things such as helicopters - is not new. The Government of Karnataka is openly helpless in protecting its own people from these almost predictable disasters.

The Central Government, too, has failed in ensuring that neighbouring states work out a decent plan for handling river water excesses. Why wasn't Maharashtra asked to stop releasing Krishna waters before all these lives were taken? And why were helicopters not kept close to flood-prone areas? Flood relief efforts are so badly organized that these helicopters, which fly in from faraway areas, run out of fuel when they get to the spot! Does it take rocket science to station them locally? Or does it take a highly centralized administration (which converts state-governments into havens of low-calibre people)?

Of course, all this is still flood-relief. It's high time we start using the other term: flood control. States which take the lives of their citizens seriously do flood control, not flood relief. While floods caused the Netherlands to start (and yes, complete) the Delta Works and England to build the Thames Barrier, our heads of government, at best, to go to the river to offer prayers to the River Deity!

We have a long way to go before we learn how to live exist.

Picture courtesy: AFP

8 comments:

カンナダ語伊賀 said...

Hey, but the younger brother did visit all these flood prone places in Vijapura and he also had Ganji in Ganji Kendra at UkamanaLa. VK has published a photo of CM gulping down that Ganji with an old women sitting next to him. Isn't is gesture enough that HE cares, what more you want? Poor fellow was busy piercing his big brothers idol in Dasara procession and was busy doing yoga and all, and it's cruel to expect HIM to do anything to implement "flood Control" aka European model.

Nice information though,, the construction of flood ways (man-made channels to divert floodwater), retention ponds to hold extra water during times of flood. Can this really be done? Politicians are in heavy need of public money to win elections, how can they divert that fund now to these kinda activities?

Gurunath Deshmukh said...

First of tof all that are neve had such kind of flood.....never in the history.....from centuries/years its been drought hit area....no man made sturctures can save it for flood of this magnitude.....we can't anticipate floods and constuct barriers like one in UK in Rajasthan.....be realisitc....do expect the floods in desert....? once in century it may happen....No system can do anything....Even in US and other were not able to anything....have seen taiwan floods recently.....it nature my friend....when its angry....we are all helpless.....don't balme systems and ministers for everything....

Don' critisize for the sake of it. Go and help the needy....

カンナダ語伊賀 said...

Gurunath Deshmukh,

Thinking that it is nature's fury and keeping quite? I guess we can do a little more than that. Your advise to go and help the needy is well taken, however, what about the technology? Has the Government sent a team to study how the flood is controlled in other countries. Forget it, Have they atleast invested money in building technologies to forecast bad weather like this one.

Or do they still think that it is not possible at all? Should we think that Mother earth is angry on us? Tell me Deshmukh.

saara said...

with all the technology and funding US had dificult time in rescuing its citizen from katrina and the human losses were close to 2000. I am not sure what do u mean by flood control mechanism. Is is really viable?? Do you really think science has advanced so much to be able to predict natures fury?? If that is so, there wouldnt have been any calamities in any of the developed world. Need of the hour is help the affected people. The easiest thing to do is to blame the system and most of us fall pray to this easy job.

カンナダ語伊賀 said...

Sarah,
Weather forecast is not rocket science. Do you want to wait till the western countries discover and start implementing it? Or do you want to wait till 1/2 of Karnataka is eroded by floods.

All I am saying is Govt. should be forthcoming in LEARNING atleast as to what could be done to control such a disaster. Having no plan for flood control for the fear of failing is a pessimists job not Government's.

カンナダ語伊賀 said...

"Do you really think science has advanced so much to be able to predict natures fury??"

Yes, science is there, we need to discover it. It needs Government funding and support. More than anything else the will is required to question the existing system.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flood_control

カンナダ語伊賀 said...

I guess we can call - BijapurA, KoppalA, GadagA, DharwadA.

maaysa said...

@カンナダ語伊賀

Yes.. in Kannada we do call Bijapura, Koppala, Gadaga, Dharwada, which the govt. of Karnataka has corrected to during Dharmsingh govt.

May be we need a Raj Takry to enforce them in Karnataka :D

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