Stay prepared

June 11, 2018 02:00 AM Republica

Saving lives from monsoon 

More than four thousand Nepalis have lost their lives in floods in the last four decades. Our 6,000 rivers and rivulets traverse some 45,000 kilometers in mountains, plains and the hills. Floods and landslides have become synonym of deaths and destruction during every monsoon. We have, from time to again, in this space urged the concerned government agencies to prepare for the havoc the monsoon will unleash across the country. We have heard nothing significant from the government to take on this issue and monsoon is right at our doorstep now. It is good that Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) has activated its alert system so that settlements living nearby flood-prone areas are informed well in advance, lives and properties can be saved. The department did a wonderful job, despite resource constraint, last year to inform the public of upcoming flash flood and other natural calamities. We can only hope that the department is better prepared this year as well. 

We often hear projects being launched to prepare our security agencies and others to respond to natural disasters, especially monsoon-induced ones, but it is usually either the army or the police who end up taking the risks to help flooded communities. With the presence of local elected bodies, there must be coordinated and smooth mechanism in place to deploy support and other resources to disaster hit areas this monsoon. There must not be any excuse on our government’s part when it comes to preventable loss of lives, especially in hilly region and in the plains in the south. The government should also be alarmed by rapid deforestation in and around the Chure range. Moreover, unplanned excavation of sand and other raw materials from the region is threatening our dense settlements in the southern plains. Water sources are drying up across the country, glaciers are melting and barren hills are prone to flood and landslides. Together with local bodies, the federal government must work to create a national action plan in order to check rampant excavation of resources, threatening the very livelihood of millions of people. 

Life is too precious to be lost when it is entirely preventable. Monsoon should be a season for celebration, for majority of our farmers depend on it for agriculture. But it has become a source of fear for many. We urge the government to stay alert and prepared to respond to natural disaster this monsoon and think deeply to avert such a situation in the years to come. There is no time to lose. Often the government springs into action only when damages have been done and lives have been lost. This kind of ad hoc response has already cost us a lot. The situation this year must be different. If the government fails to mobilize its agencies for preparedness and make the early warning system really effective, we might have to experience what we have been experiencing for years.  We sincerely hope no efforts will be spared to ensure that not a single life will be lost to natural disaster.

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