It is a Sunday morning and I’m comfortably sitting on my couch, warmed and comforted, sipping on a cup of steaming hot cappuccino, as the sound of a constant rain fills the noise in the background. The endless pattering of the rain is like a song, deep on the hard of the roof, and light on the soft of the trees. The nature at its best. A symphony in the air.
Only a thousand miles away, in the state of Kerala, the same rain is singing an entirely different type of song. A dirge of great human tragedy and profound infrastructural destruction reminding mankind of its insignificance against nature.
Heavens have burst in Kerala letting out a downpour that has deluged rivers, and spilled over its dams. Flooded longest of its roads, submerged tallest of the buildings, and in this wild fury, killed men and animals alike. Hundreds have been reported died, and still, many more hundreds are hanging by a thin thread of hope. Just a one snap away from death. It’s ironical that the same state goes by the moniker – “Kerala – God’s own country.”
So much has been the downpour that for the first time in its history, Asia’s largest Dam, the Idukki dam in Kerala, had to open all of its five shutters. The resulting downpour has spread like a virus, submerging everything in its wake. Airports and hospitals and houses – nothing is left untouched.
Even in an average year, Kerala receives more rain than most of the states in India. But this year, the numbers have hit the roof, with some areas receiving as much as thrice the average rainfall of the season. And even now there is no sign of this rain abetting. The skies are still pouring as I write this. This rainfall has caused havoc beyond imagination.
As we see the News coming from different areas of Kerala, we see a destruction of epic proportions. Since the rains began in the month of June, it has displaced over seven hundred thousand people. Damaged infrastructure worth three hundred billion dollars. Destroyed two-thousand houses, submerged forty thousand hectares of land. And killed over three hundred people.
The numbers are still coming – more rains, more floods, more damages, more deaths.
Nature is blind.
The laws of physics, which early men took to be Gods, and which the modern men still cling on resulting in the most of the man-made ills of this society, are impervious to the human misery and requirements. Nature lacks empathy. Earthquakes and Tsunamis and Floods – they will continue to happen until the Laws of Physics allow them to happen. These phenomenon respond to the conditions, not on the impact. Focus on the process, not on the result.
So it doesn’t matter how much havoc the rains have caused – how many children it has orphaned, how many women it has widowed - the rain will go on and on until the weather conditions allowed them to do so. Similarly, the rains won’t start just because a land is parched for months, dried and cracked like the lips of an old whore, thirsty for water.
The rains are like that. Impersonal, impartial, indifferent.
And like every other natural phenomenon, rains continue till they have to continue. And with nature, the impact is always compounded. Earthquake followed by Tsunamis. Floods by disease. So even if the rain recedes now, the flood impacted areas of Kerala are going to see a host of problems.
When floodwaters recede, affected areas are often blanketed in silt and mud. The water and landscape can be contaminated with hazardous materials, such as sharp debris, pesticides, fuel, and untreated sewage. Potentially dangerous mold blooms can quickly overwhelm water-soaked structures. Residents of flooded areas can be left without power and clean drinking water, leading to outbreaks of deadly waterborne diseases like typhoid, hepatitis A, and cholera.BBC
Rains in Kerala – one more proof for climate change?
The devastation in Kerala once again highlights South Asia’s vulnerability to flooding due to changes in rainfall patterns linked to climate change. A World Bank report earlier this year warned that the region’s megacities, including Mumbai and Dhaka in Bangladesh, appeared increasingly vulnerable as a result of rising average temperatures. The monsoon is becoming more and more erratic. The period demarcating start and end of seasons have blurred. There are floods in Kerala, drought in Maharashtra. Chaos everywhere.
How long until the rest of us can see the devastation from the comforts of our homes? How long until we express surprise at the statistics of a faraway place and discuss it over coffee in our offices and homes? How long until we find yourself in the middle of such a storm, destroyed and devastated trying in waste to recollect our lost lives?
A few years back, in Pune where I live, the rains were light and predictable. But even that is changing. Recently, Mets predicted a dry fortnight in August. But it has rained endlessly since then. The drizzles have turned into strong showers. The short spells into longer ones. There used to be warm summers earlier, now it becomes blazing hot. Other places are showing the same trend. In Bangalore, a lake is spewing out white fumes covering the city in a harmful toxic froth . Recently in Mumbai, a high tide swept the near-shore areas and left behind tonnes of garbage and sewage.
No, Kerala is not an exception, and the day is not far when most of us will not be watching the news – we will be the news, we will become the statistics.
My tea is finished, and I’m looking out the window. Even behind the shut window, I can hear the raindrops beating down harder on the ground, hard on the roof, hard on trees. A howling wind is cutting through the trees. It has been liked this constantly from the dawn of the day to the black of the night. Neither the rain, nor the wind has stopped. On and on, it is going on, its initial slight murmuring turning into bold loud howling, then twisted and contorted, like shrieks of someone dying.
It’s not long…
You can contribute the the distress relief fund by going on the link below