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Emergency Management and Economic Progress

The north Indian state which used to boast of some of Indian’s mightiest rivers and tributaries is now crying loud the stories of devastation, destruction and death. The scene of nature’s fury is so horrible that It is now being dubbed as a ‘Himalayan Tsunami’. The Images of destroyed homes, crumbled buildings, and thousands of people trapped In the debris, stranded in the hills tell a horrid tale. The rage of overflowing rivers depicts how nature exacts revenge.

Environmentalists have noted that the act of mindless construction of homes and hotels on the banks of the rivers, mushrooming Hyde projects, construction of dams, cutting mountains in the Himalayan region are all the seasons behind the devastation of such mammoth proportions. The floods have exposed how vulnerable Indian disaster management system Is. More than a natural disaster, It was a manmade calamity clearly, In Outranked that has killed more than 10,000 people, injured thousands more, scores still remain missing and unaccounted for, and washed away hundreds of structures.

Thousands of pilgrims who had come to the sacred char diameter (travel to the four abodes of god), are still stranded in the hills and forests, despite the best efforts of rescue teams led by

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the Indian Army ND paramilitary forces Environmentalists describe the death and damage as a man- made disaster while geologists say the extent of destruction could have been far lesser if stricter regulations had been put in place and the authorities equipped to deal with the situation.

When we try force change nature and its landscape, it gets back and punishes us. This was a land meant for meditation, but it has been turned into purely a tourist destination. The government and the big private money have brought In changes on a gigantic scale, totally unsuitable and detrimental for fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas. The cloudburst struck outranked on 15th and 16th unprecedented destruction and devastation.

Apart from devastation wrought to infrastructure in terms collapse of roads and buildings, thousands of people are reported to have lost their lives in this saddest tragedy. Villages and villages were washed away leaving no trace behind. The colossal loss of human lives is in fact tragic since it’s is irretrievable. The question as to whether the flood fury in Outranked is a manmade disaster or not is a bit complex one and to answer it with certitude is equally difficult one.

The reason being that despite our tremendous scientific progress in the field of weather prediction or meteorology, yet we have not come of age where can understand and know fully about the working of nature and predict exactly as to when and where this sort of natural catastrophe is going to strike and that too well in advance. Whatever predictions are made are basically premised on the data containing combinations and permutation of so many factors. And on the basis of that our meteorologists are able to Just indicate the way things could happen.

The prediction could come true and equally the chances are that wings may not happen exactly the way this has been predicted. The uncertainty about the future happenings especially pertaining to the nature’s activities always looms large. There is no doubt about it that man has exploited nature to a great extent for his own needs of habitation, housing, food and clothing as well that our forest lands are depleting rapidly. Green gold or greenery is vanishing from the earth planet even from the plain and mountainous regions, converting the planet into concrete Jungles.

Trees are being cut/ felled down in uncounted numbers in the name of development and economic progress and particularly for creation of infrastructure in terms of roads, highways and railways etc. Power projects and mining and construction activities are the main causes of preventable environmental degradation. Natural calamities such as cloudbursts and flash floods could not be prevented, but deaths and damage could be contained if there were laws to regulate construction along the rivers, and authorities were equipped to deal with the situation.

Entire world now is in crazy race of economical progress, everyone wants placement which brings more money, no matter what we want development, the race is too competitive and furious, it seems there is no time to plan any strategy they just want to run, run at any cost and win the race or at a tie but loosing is not a option. But that’s where is the problem, very few are looking for ‘long term sustainable progress’, most of us are in race for short term gains, quicker the better, no one has time to think about impact of our actions on environment.

I know it’s easy to say this than to follow but all these disasters should force all of us to think. It was a disaster waiting to happen. Outranked has bumper-to-bumper dams and hydro- electricity projects. The river Ganges runs into many tunnels, only to be seen at a few spots as reservoirs, legal and illegal mining goes on unabated, and thousands of buildings constructed in cement and concrete have come up all alongside the river banks. Today, more than 220 Hydro Electricity Projects are operational in Outranked and about 600 are proposed.

Large scale mining and tunneling are carried out to construct them under the fragile hills that must be blown away, using massive alongside the river banks of Biography, Mankind, Landlady, Visualizing, Groaning, Binder, Dulia, Kali, Igor Gang and Ranging rivers where hotels, shops, restaurants and resorts have come up in order to cater to pilgrims. Permission has been given to build hotels and resorts on river banks in the IV and V category seismic zone. Industrialization and arbitration has contributed equally towards man’s intervention with environment and CEO-system telling heavily upon natural resources.

Construction of Dams especially big ones for generation of electricity and land mining etc have disturbed the ecological balance of nature to an extent never felt before. Land mafia are hell bent upon encroaching the prime lands wherever feasible , of course, in connivance with bus’s having the onus of checking all these malfeasances and also because of patronage enjoyed by them from their political masters. The reason being that everybody is seemingly in race to amass wealth at whatever cost it may come and the estates is one of the best considered businesses where prices are rapidly skyrocketing.

The mankind may go to hell but there is no halt to man’s lust and greed. The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi once said “Nature has everything for man’s needs and nothing for man’s greed”. Additionally, norms of constructions are not implemented in their true spirit, thanks to our corrupt bus’s who may make hay while the sun shines, unmindful of the facts that such of their misdeeds might result in catastrophic consequences for the whole mankind. This is amply evident from number of houses and hotels, restaurants built on the banks of rivers many of which were washed away in landslides.

This all calls for concerted efforts aimed at maintaining the ecological balance of nature at this crucial juncture to save the mankind from the horrendous ramifications in the wake of ever increasing man’s invention in affairs of nature as well as man exploitation of natural recourses beyond a certain permissible limits and that too after taking effective measures to replenish the same in equal measures. Excessive rain, flash floods, landslides and soil erosion in hilly and mountainous regions and even earthquakes striking different parts of the world are primarily due to disturbances in ecological balance.

This is in fact a clear warning to all of us not to exploit nature beyond a certain point. Else any invention with nature in the form of cutting trees to create infrastructure like roads, rails and bridges and highways etc as well as playing with flora and fauna if not matched with remedial measures in equal proportion to maintain the environment and ecological balance could prove disastrous. We know, the hilly and mountainous regions which are considered very close to nature have not escaped man’s intervention.

These places have now abundantly become tourists spots or pilgrimages and men have littered these virgin places with non- biodegradable plastic bolsters, polygamy and thermocouples disposable plates and glasses. The man’s ingress at these places has in fact disturbed the temperature of he regions, bringing in its wake the catastrophic devastation. Importantly, on December 18, 2012 notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, declared the entire watershed around the 135-km stretch between Gauguin and Thrashing, along the Biography river, as an ‘CEO-sensitive Zone’ under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

This, in practice, bans all construction activity in the area. It had also announced a blanket ban on felling of trees and setting up of factories to declaration, but opposition to it grew from several local quarters, including the state overspent. The contractors’ and builders’ lobby is opposing it as it would affect their business, whereas locals will benefit since only small hotels in local tradition and architecture will be allowed. Moreover, the declaration forbids dumping of sewage into Gang.

The State government has been opposing it stoutly, arguing that such an order will adversely affect development and the economic progress of the region. This disaster however has also unmasked the government of Outranked of its poor disaster preparedness, as revealed by a Comptroller and Auditor General (GAG) report. It slams the state government for its lackadaisical approach towards implementation of important aspects of disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

Though the state disaster management authority was formed six years ago (2007), it didn’t meet even a single time till the date and did not have required personnel in place. Nearly half of the posts in the district emergency operations wings are lying vacant. The defaulter is our leadership at the state and centre. It is these men who are to blame for each person dead in the Outranked tragedy. Tragedy could have been avoided if weather radars had existed at local bevel. Tragedy highlights need for sensors at local/state level to detect micro-climate and forecast phenomena such as cloudbursts.

Overall satellite picture doesn’t give specific data required to forecast such disasters. Despite being prone to frequent cloudbursts, falsehoods and landslides, Outranked has virtually no system in place for early warnings, weather forecasts or even dissemination of rainfall and landslide related data. As soon as the tragedy occurred, the Barbarity Kanata Party (BGP), the party in opposition, was quick in blaming the ruling party for the “man-made assister”. It shows the quality of politicians the country has, who in the time of emergencies indulge in blame game than contributing anything towards relief work.

BGP must not forget that it was in power for five years preceding last year’s Assembly Elections. Because of recent economic progress in India there is huge migration of working class from villages to cities and all these people need place to stay, water to drink and also generate lot of waste. So all these things are putting enormous amount of pressure on infrastructure of these cities and some of them are crumbling ender this pressure of uncontrolled immigration and poor management.

In most of these cities people built homes wherever they find empty space, dry river bed, top of drainage, right on the bank of river, on hills, no place is forbidden, they manage it either legally or illegally. There is almost negligible or no space between two houses, people construct homes like card houses, side by side, almost resting on each other. People try to construct something on each and every available space, there is no plan for emergency exit or proper drainage, any free space is too valuable to waste.

Everything goes fine as long as nothing abnormal happens like what happened in Iambi (in 2005) or in Outranked (2013) or some earthquake, people don’t know what to do, where to go, how to escape, because there is no escape path, there is no emergency exit, even many times its difficult to send any help to these places because the lanes are so narrow, buildings are so close to each other that some of them don’t even get sunlight even during bright sunny day, even ambulance can’t reach many houses.

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