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Drought not in land but in action

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- S.R.Rajagopal

Most of the States and Union Territories barring a very few in the country have been experiencing extremity either in drought or in flood. This alarming situation is not an uncommon phenomenon in our country. Since 1965 or so, we come across such natural calamities causing inexplicable hazardous impediments to people.

As is the customary, Government would announce certain relief measures to counter the situation. Affected States would fight with Centre to get more relief than allocated to them. Centre would send its team to make ‘on the spot’ study to ascertain the magnanimity of drought or flood. Relief measures would be in kinds of food articles, clothes, temporary shelters, and a small amount of money to take care of day to day needs for few days etc. would be distributed. Government ladder, intermediaries and self styled social workers would swallow in some way or the other, the quantum of relief. Therefore, the ultimate result arises out of the relief measures is zero, obviously. Every time drought/flood/cyclone occurs, the lesson we are taught is that ‘Drought and flood would come and affect, relief measures would get discussed in Parliament and media channels and the disbursal would take place for the sake of publicity. But the poor people continue to carry on the sufferings till they leave this horrible world. This is one of the ongoing customary activities of the government every year.

Grave Concern:
Now this is the case for grave concern to everybody. Why do such lapses happen? Who are responsible for this? Where and when and by whom mistakes are committed? Who cares for further follow up after announcing the relief measures and see that it reaches the people to whom it is meant for? We, the continuous sufferers have to think over and to find out the answers, if any. Let us take a few areas for the purpose of analysis here.

Visiting of Central Team:
Gone were the days when Central team members were intellectual, efficient, honest and who put forth the facts without any exaggeration in their reports. Now the position is quite contrary to the past. Visiting the areas declared to be affected by the natural calamity has become a routine job rather than an objective one. Present days bureaucrats are not efficient and talent enough to grasp the situation and report diligently and justifiably to the Government. Even if they submit a factual and honest report in a rare case, Government would have their own discretion to reject their reports on political ground as to what percentage of votes they could get from the people of the drought hit areas. This is what going on for the last four decades. There is no way out. Political parties lure, mesmerize the people by money and by unflattering verbal assurances. Let every one of us consciously think of this!

Distributional aspect of relief measures:
Even after getting some taste of relief (preceded by willful political fight) the distributional efficiency would be far from satisfactory level. They normally won’t take into account the veracity of the situation when they fix relief target. They have their own selection methods. The list of beneficiaries would include the persons of non-existence and sometime the persons who are not hit by drought or flood. Out of the allotted quantum of relief measures, major portions would be distributed according to their own specialized mathematical calculations. Thus, relief measures are disbursed just for record sake without having them reached the required destinations. This is not an uncommon case to be put forth here. It is the well known fact to everybody even to the people at remote areas. Let our own consciousness tell the judgment over this.

Long Range Planning :
Government is generally expected to have the readymade list of areas where drought/flood occurs often, as they experience the phenomena every year. Having known where cyclonic devastation takes place regularly, why not draw a permanent relief plan for those areas identified as flood prone areas by yearly experience they have. To cite an example, few of the cyclone-prone areas lie in Andhra, West Bengal, Orissa, Gujarat so is Rajasthan for drought. These are all known cases to Government. They can protect the people and property from the natural calamities to some extent by taking precarious and permanent relief measures on long term basis in the areas identified as such. It is impossible to naturally to arrest the trend
immediately, but at least we could resist them by putting up our sincere efforts to attain the end-use of the measures undertaken. Whatever be the ultimate utility of relief measures, there is a strong case for permanent remedial measures to be thought of as to whether it is flood or drought, for we could survive to some extent at least if not fully.

In short, Government should think of permanent remedial measures without any political interference. It happens to be a permanent natural calamity that occurs often along the coastal areas of Andhra and Orissa. Therefore, why not we go in detail about what could be the measures can we take permanently to arrest this problem. It is true that we can not drive away cyclone. But we can have the protective measures to some extent to save people and property in those hazardous areas. Reasonably the following measures can be looked into:

ü Permanent evacuation of men and material from these areas could be thought of;
ü Growing deep rooted trees alongside might be one way of remedy;
ü Creating thickest forests alongside;
ü Creating artificial mountains on experimental basis;
ü Constructing model houses which can withstand the attack of cyclone

The above suggestions may be of funny nature but if we think on long term measures, definitely it would yield some result. May be some more effective ways could be derived by the research organizations and specialist people in the respective field.

Same is the case for drought. Rajasthan for example has been the place of permanent drought reeling State. Government can think of alleviating the sufferings to some extent in this by drawing outeffective irrigation facilities. Irrigation cannot be attained in a matter of day. But it can be achieved through long term effective planning. Planning is not a difficult task to do. The problem is how far we bring the planning into implementation stage. We have so many planning viz. Yearly, Five Year, Ten Year and so on. But we lack in follow up action. Reason is obviously political. If any plan drawn and started functioning that should not be withdrawn or cut-size which would affect NOT the politicians but we people. Long range planning in irrigation, cultivation, drinking water facilities andindustrialization should be drawn out and followed meticulously leaving no room for lapse under any circumstances. This would not only yield result on long term basis, but the economy of the country as a whole would also improve in the years to come if not instantly.

In short, Government should think of permanent remedial measures without any political interest to attain meaningful result. Announcing the relief measures derive as eyewash with nasty political gain rather than the remedy to meet the situation. It is in this circumstance that we, the poor people should think and act with our own
consciousness and not to get mesmerized by any political activities. It is a great irony to note while country is reeling under severe drought/flood, we are worrying about the result of cricket matches and what would be the future strategy in cricket. Just think! Answer yourself! More than this, is – when people are not getting even a bit of biscuit to get over their appetite in drought areas, our political leaders are seen happy in their air-conditioned houses. Televisions continue to relay cricket matches without interval as if it gives food and shelter to everybody. It is reported that government printing godowns have circulars, etc printed in Hindi worth value of 1000 crores of rupees lying with nobody to care. Yes! What is the use in caring for those?
All circulars are printed in English and Hindi as a government policy. All read English circulars only. On the contrary Hindi circulars on receipt are just kept aside and used as waste paper. If a survey is undertaken in this regard, the readers of Hindi circulars would be negligible percentage even in Hindi belt areas. People want to use Hindi to be a colloquial language. They themselves do want to read official communications only in English which is easily understandable than Hindi or for that matter any local language. The case beingthis, Government just without any purpose print everything in multi language thereby incurring heavy expenditure for no use, which fund could alternatively have been used for other meaningful developmental activities. Just for political interpretation, government acts in an unjustified manner. The result is absolutely zero.

This is just an example among the areas where Government concentrate without having any aim or useful thought. Way of implementation speaks for itself. This equally applies to both Central and State governments. Let we people who are the sufferers of natural and government agony at times and often, think and act on vital issues being faced by us without interpreting any political, ethnical and partial interest but with the sole aim of attaining a meaningful, intellectual and efficient ultimate resultin whatever the areas we involve in. Think where you are!

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