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Keralites should change to avert last year’s devastation
In My View

Keralites should change to avert last year’s devastation

P.C. Punnen

Kerala is preparing to face another flood. Exactly a year ago Kerala faced a disaster, which was unthinkable to many Malayalis. It was overcome by the people joining hands and the government and the other politicians forgetting their enmity. Despite all efforts, four hundred and eighty three people lost their lives.

This year too, the rains have struck disaster. For nearly 2 months we were waiting for the monsoon rains. When it came, it struck disaster. This means we haven't learnt the lesson from last year's disaster. This perhaps shows that we as a state are reluctant to take note of the serious issue called ecological disaster. It is high time we took notice of it. Next year, we could see the same thing being repeated and so on, year after year as we have not cared to save our environment.

Buildings had been permitted in the high ranges, which goes against the concept of river safety. What is required is that no high rise building should be permitted to come up in the high ranges. River flow will be affected by such constructions. Similarly in the low lying areas, paddy fields have made way for multi- storied buildings which is against the water system. Water is supposed to flow into paddy fields and paddy fields are supposed to give space for birds and fish. Water harvesting is not a new idea. It is practised in other states. The simple reason is water should have place to flow. It should not be allowed to flow straight into the river. There should be some units to store it. It can be easily done by the state and landowners.  It is time people woke up to this forgetting their politics. All this has gone, thanks to the greed of people for money. This practise should end. No matter what the CPM, the Congress and BJP think, people must have this thought guiding their plans. Without planning at a higher level we can't go ahead with immediate gains in mind.

This is an issue which has to be taken very seriously not just by the government and the opposition parties for reasons that are as plenty as blackberries. The Kerala government took no care before regularising encroaching of public land. The opposition too ignored the issue, for the votes are the only thing they care for. The same can be said about the rains that give us the trouble. It has been happening for decades. Land grabbing has also been happening for years. This cannot go on forever. The clumsy way of winning votes ought to be avoided.

The Nedumbassery airport has been closed till Monday and the people are stuck. The chances of a flood in Aluva, heavy rains in Palakad and Wayanad and Malappuram have been reported. Twelve deaths have been recorded in Kerala. Forty people are reported to be missing in landslides in Wayanad district. Over 1300 people have been sheltered at relief camps.  CM Pinarayi Vijayan  called a meeting of ministers. He gave them directions to go to different districts and take care of the families of the deceased and aged people . All district collectors have been directed to supervise relief work. Police chief Loknath  Behera has asked the SPs to be prepared to face any eventuality. The Indian Army is operating in the relief work.

So far so good. The best thing is that unlike last year there has been no controversy over the flood relief work and this time the government will avoid any controversy The high and mighty and the low people of Idukki and Wayanad are one in grabbing public land with the help of politicians and police and High priests. The earlier we attend to it, the better. Or another disaster worse than the kind we overcame last year is bound to occur.

The Kasturi Rangan report which the Oommen Chandy sarkar had not accepted and which had the support of the CPM for not accepting it. Kasturi Rangan had mollified the Water harvesting is not a new idea. It is practised on other states. The simple reason is water should have a place to go. There should be some units to store it.

It is time people woke up to this forgetting their politics. The Madhav Gadgil report had suggested even sterner steps.  This is the tragedy that we Keralites are bound to suffer by way of our own vested interests and votes. All politicians know it well. Suffice it to say this much- a heavy price has been paid for ignoring such commissioned reports and worse modifying them. The BJP, the CPM and the Congress are in cahoots with vested interests. The Kerala Congress is the beneficiary of this, for the votes count and that is something none of the 3 parties can ignore.

It's time we Keralites saw through the game. Politicians should think of a way out of this mess.  We Keralites who overcame the floods last year with the help of all including foreigners, ought to realise it.

With high ranges and low lying areas having been allowed to be massively exploited by the builder groups with the help of our politicians, our land is in a fragile condition. It must stop now. Exploitation of the environment must stop or Nature will strike back as it is doing now.

Kerala, which was called God's Own Country, will cease to be it, if this continues. Let it not happen.