Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 03 February 2023 3.54 PM IST

Disaster management policy should be changed


The weather in the state has become unpredictable. It is raining heavily at unusual times. Many districts are reeling under the threat of floods. Both the country and the city are suffering from waterlogging caused by unprecedented heavy rains. In addition to this, landslides occur in the hills. A landslide in Thodupuzha's Kudayathur on Sunday night took the lives of five people in a house. A woman, her son and family members were buried alive under the landslide and rocks. Rescuers took seven hours of hard work to retrieve the bodies. If the water, rock pieces and mud that rolled down had not hit the big rock and diverted, about fifty houses and their residents would have been buried under the ground. Although there is relief that a major disaster has been avoided, not only the locals but the entire state is reeling from the tragedy faced by Soman, a fifty-three-year-old man who supported his family by farming, and his family members.

Due to the topography of the state, there are many ecologically sensitive areas. Human encroachment in these areas is increasing along with population growth. It is a natural law that when mountains are increasingly occupied by humans for agriculture and settlement, the natural balance will also change. A large part of the natural forests have been lost. Many of the hills have been converted into farms. The hill climbers are converting the land for various purposes. Ultimately these are things that have a negative impact on the environment. Protection of ecologically sensitive areas has become an important issue. The Supreme Court's order to maintain areas around wildlife sanctuaries and protected forests as reserves has already become a challenge for states like Kerala. The government and the political parties here are thinking how to overcome this hurdle. The government is preparing to make a report on the reserve sector and submit it to the court. Along with this inspection, widespread landslides remind us that it is time to find out the areas that may be easily exposed to natural disasters and take safety measures accordingly. Humans cannot prevent natural calamities. Then it is desirable to look for ways to manage such disasters effectively. It has been decided to entrust the determination of reserve areas in 115 villages to an expert committee.

Frequent natural calamities test not only the people but also the government. A huge sum of money has to be set aside every year for disaster relief. Rescue operations in disaster-stricken areas are fraught with challenges. The difficulties faced by the rescue workers when a disaster strikes in areas where there are no transportation facilities are severe. A solution should be found to all these problems. The state has many landslide prone areas. With the help of geologists, they should be able to find them and take safety measures. People in high risk areas should be encouraged to move to safer places. Necessary assistance should be provided for this. Such precautionary measures do not require as much money as would be spent on post-disaster rescue and rehabilitation. A new approach to disaster management should be developed.

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