Pre-monsoon madness

  • Only through coordinated response can we minimise the damages from natural disasters that hit us every year

May 16, 2018-

A huge storm has torn across the Tarai this past week, killing four people, destroying crops worth millions of rupees, and leaving hundreds of homes powerless. Most recently, western Tarai districts of Kanchanpur, Kailaki, Bardiya and Banke and central Tarai districts of Sarlahi and Siraha have been affected disrupting electricity supply and telephone services. While summer storms are not new to the Tarai, the lack of preparedness routinely leaves behind a trail of destruction. The damage that could have been prevented ends up wreaking havoc. It is the responsibility of the state to prepare for the events that occur every summer.

Anthropogenic activities like the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests to erect concrete buildings have led to rise in the earth’s temperature. That in return has led to climate change. Although Nepal contributes negligibly to carbon emission in global terms, it is still quite prone to effects of climate change. Due to its active tectonic plates, the Himalayas are prone to great natural disasters. Variable climatic conditions, unplanned urbanisation, and increasing population also have made Nepal a disaster hotspot. The Gorkha Earthquake in 2015 and the floods in August last year are some recent instances natural disasters that have beset the country.

The Parliament last September endorsed the Disaster Risk Mitigation and Management Bill-2017 replacing the Natural Calamity (Relief) Act-1982. Unlike the Natural Calamity Act, the new law covers a broad spectrum of disasters and disaster cycle management ranging from preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. The law was envisioned to be a major departure from the previous legal instruments that are mainly response-centric. But the lacklustre enforcement of laws pertaining to disaster preparedness is the primary reason that there continues to be destructions, according to experts. Creating effective institutional setup is necessary to translate the Disaster Risk Mitigation and Management law into action.

Summer has just begun and the Tarai is already confronted with adversity. The pre-monsoon storm is only the beginning of the other natural disasters–such as flash floods and landslides–that routinely take a toll on human lives and property every monsoon. Because Nepal gets most of its rainfall in the months of monsoon and, sometimes excessive rainfall within days in that period, the responsible bodies should work on the disaster preparedness and the government should put them in place before the disasters strike. Proper planning and coordinated response will minimise the loss to lives and properties. 

Published: 16-05-2018 08:16

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