The worst flood in the past century hit Kerala and wreaked devastation. Initial estimates of economic losses - damaged buildings, roads washed away, and destroyed agricultural crops - place the figure at over Rs 8,000 crore.
The severely hit areas are where the fragile ecosystem has been tampered with - paddy fields turned into human settlements, flood plain agriculture in the backdrop of receding waters from dammed rivers, landslides in ecologically sensitive, hilly terrains ravaged by quarrying, have seen the maximum destruction. This is not the first time the relationship between climate change and extreme climatic conditions and unpredictable weather patterns is in the spotlight. The Chennai floods reminded us of the disappearance of swamps and lakes, the Uttarakhand disaster pointed to the problems of unplanned constructions. The National Disaster Management Authority is very important, but more crucial is policy makers' will to frame laws to protect the country's eco sensitive regions from further destruction and rampant exploitation. Development must have a scientific rationale.
- Joe C Mathew