By Wangkheimayum Bhupendra Singh
The sun is once again shining down on us from the sky. The rains have ceased for the time being and water levels of major rivers in the state have also started to recede. Just two days back the people of the state were in perpetual fear of when the rivers will overflow or the embankments caved in. Several bridges were swept away in the hill districts; roads remained clogged with water at several Imphal localities and in other valley districts. River embankments had started to seep in water at several places. Locals were seen jostling with one another to mend the vulnerable areas along the river banks. Jiribam in Imphal East district became the worst affected area with several localities being submerged by flood and a man feared to have drowned in the Jiri River while trying to save another. Around 40 houses at Khoichoithup, Jiribam were reportedly swept away by the flooded Jiri River. Relief camps were set up at several places in the sub-division. Meanwhile, the IFCD Minister assured that all possible preventive measures have been taken up to avert any major calamities.
While the promptness and readiness of the Minister and his team should be welcome, nonetheless we all know that such assurances and inspections should be followed by actions and preceded by planning. The ability and promptness of the authorities and all stakeholders at setting up relief camps and inspecting vulnerable stretches of rivers banks during such taxing times should never be confused as the readiness and competence of the authorities in fighting such natural calamities. The authorities concerned should at least be considerate enough to understand the issue beforehand and craved out ways to meet any eventualities. The authorities could start with a definite planning on ways of combating flood and other natural calamities. Reacting only when the need arises should be at all times abandoned. Considering the action part, we could well start with a drainage system. The authorities could expedite the construction of the Imphal Sewerage project for starters. The PHED Minister after his first inspection of the project as the concerned Minister recently had announced that the first phase of the project will be completed by March 2013. The project was earlier slated for a March 2012 completion and it has taken much longer to complete than expected. It is almost a decade since the foundation stone was laid. Proper drainage systems in all localities should also be encouraged. Residents should also check that the drainage systems in their areas are not clogged so as to allow flow of sewage water. Plantation should also be encouraged to retain more water. Construction of water reservoirs, lakes, and ponds could also help in the process of controlling flood. Placing of sandbags and muds along the river banks should be left for emergencies, while construction of retaining walls along the river embankments should be used as preventive measures.
About a week or so ago, the state was on the verge of a perpetual drought with farmers complaining of unavailability of water for their fields. Just four or five days of rain changed the scenario completely. Before the rain break since some two days back everyone was anxious about an impeding flood. Had the rains continued for a day or two longer its results could have been disastrous. While it is evident that none could escape from the wrath of Nature, we could certainly act to impede the danger.