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Deluge of unimaginable proportions
Aug 25, 2005 09:06 PM 3761 Views
(Updated Aug 27, 2005 11:03 AM)

History is Made


July 26th, 2005 made history of sorts for the world weather. This much of intensity of water raining down from the clouds! Nobody had any inkling of the disaster that was pouring down for several hours. In fact the Met. Department had prophesied somewhat late and deficient  monsoon this season. In fact predicting earthquakes and monsoon is an impossible task.  For some years the Met Department was predicting quite correctly and so was very happy talking of its multiparameter(very Large no.) model on which the predictions were based. That is the point about these models, highly empirical and uncertain; the variables are too many and that they may change with time and many other unknown conditions. In the case of earthquake, I do not know and I am not sure, perhaps the tectonic plates move ever so slowly that their motion is not detected. It is only when the plates collide and release enormous amounts of energy that it is registered. Similarly their must be too many parameters in monsoon prediction that a change in some or the introduction of some new factor can play havoc as it did on the 26th of July, 2005 in Mumbai and surroundings. The season's half quota was over in one day! All talk of cloud burst does not appear to make sense in the present context because it was very much prolonged and was over a very large area.


Earlier Tsuami disaster, never heard of in this country, brought havoc in the southern parts of our country and neighbouring countries. Appeals for help, naturally. Everybody gave whatever was possible, clothes, blankets, utensils and what have you.


Nature's Fury


But the Mumbai downpour defies everyone's senses. Almost everyone had some near ones, friend, relative or known person to relate the damage and suffering. Many of our friends had their houses completely under water. There was several feet of water; with closed door knee deep and when the door was opened  it became neck deep. I am talking of friends living in Bandra, Panvel, Kalamboli, Malad. There must be several places with this kind or even worse flooding. Everything is spoiled, clothes, furniture, books, appliance and worse documents.  The loss is mental, physical and monetary. I telephoned a friend in Kalamboli several days later and they were still cleaning and struggling with the situation! The lady said, 'Bhai sahab'Hal to behal hai' and the description left one with the deepest sympathy.


Conditions


In the hutments near our place, some money was distributed recently. Twenty percent was said to have been retained by the person distributing. It is this aspect of our Society which aggravates every disaster and calamity wether due to Nature's fury or man made. It is known to everybody from personal experience and observation that garbage(lots of polythene bags and else) from the'nullaha' are not collected and removed and the contractor gets his money anyway without  doing the work.


The BMC does not discharge its responsibility. The attitude is extremely callous and corrupt. Nobody thinks in terms of society and others. We observe this everyday in our city. Garbage, traffic, roads nothing is in a bearable condition. Garbage is not removed. Roads are in a pathetic condition. Traffic is indisciplined beyond imagination and the policeman on duty does not think it necessary to stop vehicles where they should so that at least the pedestrians can cross. drainage system is horrendous and is made worse by neglect.


Response


This was a disaster and there has to be response to the disaster. For that the Govt. has to have a ready plan to respond to the disaster. There is no time to think and act after the disaster has struck. This plan has to be prepared by experts from different disciplines: technical, administrative, services, law and order and infomation to keep the media abrest of the situation and developments.


Very briefly the plan should have certain prerequisites well laid down.




  1. Classification: type of disaster and plan for each situation




Different types of situations should be envisaged; Earthquake, building collapse, rail accident, floods, riots, bomb blasts(terrorist attacks), excessive rain and so on.




  1. The command




It is the most important aspect of disaster handling. Somebody has to be in-charge and control the situation. He should be designated by his position in the Govt. and in his absence, due to some reason, at least two more persons to take charge and direct operations. The command has to be well defined and has to be centralised.




  1. Agencies




In a disaster like situation a number of agencies may be required to act. In fact some special agencies may have to be created for the purpose or some to designated for additional effort. It is a must that a body of experts should do this for each type of disastrous situation envisaged. The agencies must be well prepared for dealing with the situation for which thay are called upon to deal. They should be knowing their role and persons in the plan. They should be trained and well equipped to act in the required manner.


In fact drills are the best way to keep them ready and on alert.




  1. Information




Disseminating correct and upto date information to the public is very important. This should be a part of the duty of the Commander only and none else. He may not do this directly and appoint somebody to tackle the media.




  1. Law and Order




  2. Rescue and rehabilitation






This is very very briefly the approach required to be adopted by the Govt. and they must be prepared with this all the time.


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