Shake, shake, shake
Jan 29, 2015-
Dog nights are boring nights. No sooner does it strike 9 pm than people go to bed to enjoy the warmth of their bed and blanket. Life comes to a standstill like the lull before a storm. Even the street dogs do not bark. A few days ago, I was also lying under my blanket like many others. All of a sudden, the cupboard shook violently. It was an earthquake. Both my wife and I rushed to the ground floor. Thank God it was not a big quake but only a small vibration which came to a stop in a few seconds, and there was no hue and cry among the neighbours. This tremor forced me to think about the wider complications of a disaster. Are we prepared for a real catastrophe like the Great Earthquake which occurred on January 22, 1934?
Of course not. We are too idle to meet any possible threat. Landslides and flooding cause great harm to man and property every monsoon, but we are always mute spectators. We react after a disaster rather than being prepared for one. We live in an active seismic zone. Regrettably, we are direly negligent about any traumatic shock that may fall upon us at any time.
It is said prevention is better than cure. But both our government and we the people are not giving due attention to disaster preparedness. As per renowned thinker Thomas Malthus, there are two ways to check the worst. Either prevent the worst or get ready for the worst to happen, which is more painful. Disaster does not come alone, it comes with comrades. When an earthquake happens, the transportation and communication system will collapse and the electricity supply will get cut off. There could be an acute shortage of potable water and basic food stuffs. Vagaries are difficult to imagine. Disease will spread and law and order will cease.
Our haphazard house building has created another problem. The Kathmandu valley is now littered with skyscrapers, many of which have not been built according to the building code. Open lands which used to belong to the public are now private properties. There is very little open land to take refuge in if there should be an earthquake. To add to the woes, narrow lanes make it difficult for emergency service providers like ambulances and fire brigades to enter the city. It is the responsibility of the government to make provisions for skilled manpower to meet any possible threat, but sorry to say our government is not taking any necessary steps in this direction. We are acquainted with the performance of our military personnel as a peacekeeping force abroad. We expect similar performance in times of crisis in our country also. Let’s hope the military and the police have prepared first aid boxes to provide basic medical treatment at home like they do abroad in case an earthquake strikes.
Published: 30-01-2015 09:21