August 7, 2010

when a cloudburst comes calling

Cloudbursts are not a strange phenomenon. There are descriptions of deluge and floods in our scriptures, and we have seen many of them in our own lives. So what makes a cloudburst so life-threatening as that occurred in Leh yesterday or at Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand exactly one year back?

Climate-change scare-mongers will like to blame couldburst on global environmental shift and so on. The reality is that whenever clouds rise very high [as often happens in the high mountain ranges] and suddenly precipitate their dense moisture content over a small area, heavy rains take place. In the hills, it leads to the rivulets suddenly gushing and if the hills have steep slopes and erosion prone top layers of soil it leads to landslides. Fine so far, isn’t it?

Problem comes when we, the humans, start inhabiting such landslide prone hills or too near the river in the foothills where the river has not yet widened enough to suddenly take in huge quantities of water. Human habitation may or may not reduce the capacity of the soil to absorb some of the water, but it definitely creates calamity out of a very natural phenomenon.

Rising pressure on the traditionally inhabited land will continue to force people to live in ‘prone’ areas, especially the hills. We see the entire ranges of Uttarakhand, Himachal and J&K covered with concrete structures. While in some states [eg the north-east and Kashmir], there is a ban on outsiders buying land [of course the ban is wantonly flouted] but in Uttarakhand people from the plains have grabbed hill tracts after tracts. If the next time, a cloudburst flattens or washes away these habitations, please do not blame it on things other than the individual and collective greed of the humankind. Add to it India’s disastrous disaster mapping and prevention system and you see the next calamity at the door.

God, give peace to the departed souls.

1 comment:

  1. hey i wrote a comment here..hope it got regd...take care buddy