Friday, December 31, 2004
A senior railway officer who visited the tsunami-hit coastal areas of Visakhapatnam described in the article entire village has disappeared the scene as those depicted in hindi movies during the time of partition – All men, women and children looking haggard and marching towards the town with a notable grief on their face and unusual absence of any conversation whatsoever. Further to his surprise when he reached the village all he could notice was water - The entire village had been swept away!
It was another devastating force of nature and everyone there has a horrifying tale to cite.
Then I had a look at the Chronology of earthquakes in 2004 and had to reluctantly accept the fact that No one can predict a Tsunami. Now as we all know that we can hardly predict the earthquakes and the best we can achieve in this case would be to record the occurrence of Tsunami and alert all the coasts in the anticipated range, so the worst hit that are closest to the epicenter hardly have any opportunity to take any measures and the others only have the time between the actual occurrence of the subsidence and the time the wave takes to reach the shore. And now even if the coastguard or some agency received the news just a few minutes before the incident (that has never occurred in the past and caught everyone unaware) the best they could have achieved on a lazy day after the Christmas celebration by announcing it would be pure chaos & panic. Further I cannot emphasize enough the fact that there is NO recent history of Tsunamis in Indian Ocean and so obviously no one ever considered having a sensing system. It’s like considering buying a health insurance in India - will you ever buy one?! Yet the government shall soon acquire a early warning system (EWS) that detects tsunamis for the humanitarian cause and install these special sensors at the earliest.
When I first read that India rejects foreign aid for relief work I was totally confused as to why would India do that only to realize that it is indeed a good gesture to divert the immediate need of food and other relief work where it is more in demand and we might find that requisite aid when we incur the resurrection costs. Finally I read that India has not spurned foreign aid but only stalled it so as to get a better grip on the situation and to use the funds that we already have allocated for such disasters in our disaster management programs and this also helps the funds to be distributed to other countries that might need it more at this point in time. Additionally though UN can't go to a country without a request it’s great to see so many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) coming forward to help the needy in this moment of crisis and Locals contributing to relief efforts in their own ways.
In conclusion I feel that maybe we have the resources for immediate disaster management as the Central government promised funds couple of days back and the states have taken the IMMEDIATE damages on themselves. But we might need some financial aid later during the reconstruction phase, unless they have any strings attached. So as of now there is no shortage of money, but we need a lot of manpower, equipment and logistics to handle the situation appropriately. Further I guess this has signaled that India has a strong economy and good disaster management programs.