Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tsunami A Revisit On The Second Anniversary

Tsunami A Revisit On The Second Anniversary

About a casual report

On December 25th 2004 there were reports of an earth quake in the Sumatra Island belonging to the Republic of Indonesia. The magnitude was very casually reported as 9 degrees in the Richter scale.

The author who had read some articles about earth quakes just recollected that a quake above 6 degree in magnitude is the stepping stone to a disaster, and each degree that adds to it, is capable of multiplying the impact. If that was the case the quake that was casually reported as 9 degrees was capable to cause unprecedented havoc. The phenomenon of tsunami also came to the mind being related to earth quakes.

A great Lapse

These were only stray thoughts of a man just watching television. As there are a lot of experts to do the jobs with magnitude are in the payrolls, it would be wise for ordinary people to mind their own business even if they had no business.

But precisely that was not what happened next day the television and radio were awash with reports of the unparalleled destruction and loss to life caused by the killer waves which showed no mercy. No shores of adjacent or distant countries were spared.

The death dance of the waves can only be equated the wrath of Othello The hero of the Shakespearian tragedy “ No Iago! like the Pontic Sea, Whose icy currents and compulsive course never feel a retiring ebb, But keeps on going until it reaches the Propontis and the Hellespont”.(Iago my anger will not be over as far its aim is achieved) The tsunami waves reached until the African continent with its mission of devastation.

What is the phenomenon “Tsunami”

Tsunami is a combination of two Japanese words “tsu” meaning harbour and “nami” meaning wave, the combination means as waves which strikes at the ports. Oxford dictionary describes it as “a long high sea wave caused by an earth quake or other disturbance”

India’s trysts with tsunamis

The first reported tsunami in India occurred on 31st December 1881. The other one was on 26th June 1941, details of loss to property and human lives not available. The one that struck on 26th December 2004 was the actual mother of all tsunamis as the total death toll at its credit is about 3,70,000 of which India’s share comes about 16,500 (the seven thousand missing from Andaman and Nicobar Islands included)

India’s eastern coast, which is about 1076 kilometers in length, bore the brunt while the waves did not spare even the coast of Kerala. It traversed via the Pakstrait (the strait between India and SriLanka) and reached Kerala coast with its mission of death. Coastal areas of Kollam and Arattupuzha of Alappuzha etc are among the affected areas. Total toll at Kerala comes to about 168.

Tamilnadu was the worst affected (especially Nagapattanam) which had to bear the loss of about 7793 lives. Pondicherry had 560 fatalities and Andhra Pradesh’s tally is 105. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands which stood in the way of the waves had to pay heavily for its geographical position. While reported deaths at that time was 812 only, the missing cases was 7000 all presumed dead.

On the next day morning was a terrible one, thousands dead several thousands missing those who are alive were searching the heaps of dead bodies for those of their dears and nears. Medias were having a hay day reporting deaths and destructions. Names and details of people survived were being reported for the information of their relatives, if any survived and seeking them.

The first “bold step” the Government has taken was the decision that India will not accept any external help in the relief works. The reason for taking such a drastic step was intriguing, but taken for granted as the self confidence of an emerging nation. Many valuable lives could be saved and rehabilitation could have been faster and more effective, had external helps were accepted.

Several NGOs were active and they were scrambling for space to demonstrate their ability and efficiency. It seemed as if they were delighted in getting a chance to play “good Samaritans”. Relief works were split between “Non Governmental Organizations” those were scrambling for more space. The Government acting as a referee was exuberant with magnanimity, all and sundry were liberally allotted spaces as rescue and relief works are debutant’s job!

The Mata Amritananda mayi” math which had adequate resources, dedicated men, materials and expertise was considered just an “also run NGO” and was given a fraction of the task they could actually perform. Now on 27 December 2006 the chaff has been distinguished from the grains. When Amrita Math has completed all the assigned tasks in record time, most other NGOs are far behind even Government agencies have not been able to do half of the jobs they voluntarily taken.

Most of the refugees are even now living in the temporary shelters for the period of two long years. There are complaints about the quality of the tenements already built, as well as in choosing the beneficiaries. In Tamilnadu much of the houses were built away from the Sea shore. How the poor fisher folks could take their boats and nets home, after a day’s work was not even taken in to account.

In many places of Alappuzha district and adjacent areas the relief camps were swarmed with antisocial elements, who made these camps sheer hells, both for the real refugees as well as for the workers. In more than one places the local residents had to resort in to driving away the “refugees” in one place the relief camp was burned to get rid of them.

As the Government did not know what to do with so much cash it received from varous sources, the victims as well as antisocials (who sneaked in to the rank)were liberally distributed with money. This cash found its way directly into the liquor shops, adding more problems to their family’s already overflowing cup of woes.

The ruling Government was not better either, they were busy diverting most of the money received for tsunami relief programs to other schemes better suited for catching more votes! “Like people like Government”!!!

There were declarations of planting mangroves along the Seashore and building seawall etc. As the tsunami is over why bother about all of them! After the long span of two years these promises are still kept in the refrigerator, to be taken out after the next tsunami.

The author remembers reading a feature about a poor villager spending his free time planting mangroves in the banks of the backwaters where he was residing. If a poor old villager can do such a thing what prevents the Government in initiating a program for planting mangroves along the Sea shore? Are the seeds so unaffordable to the Government? If so find the poor villager and ask for some mangrove seeds, he may give it free of cost.

Only request to the Government is this, whatever be the consequences please do not form a mangrove department. If formed that department will eventually make the poor plant extinct!

This article is dedicated to the unknown villager,

who spends his precious leisure time for a noble purpose.

God bless him!

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