Woes of God’s own country
|Trucks carrying stones from quarries near my house|
Kerala has been experiencing unprecedented natural calamities in the last few years. Floods, landslides, cyclones and extremes of weather wreak immense havoc again and again. These are the prices that the state is paying for the mindless greed of certain sections of people.
Kerala is not what it was until a few years ago. When I was a school student in 1960s and 70s, there used to be heavy rains in the monsoon season as well as the retreating monsoon. That means heavy rains for almost half the year. But these rains did not carry away houses. Hills didn’t come tumbling down in the form of massive landslides. Cyclones didn’t uproot trees. The rains poured down and the waters flowed naturally into the numerous streams and rivers whose swelling was a marvel for us children and not causes of disasters. Those were days when people had not exploited the nature brutally. There was a symbiotic relationship between man and nature. Farmers could predict the weather with more accuracy than today’s scientists who have a lot of technology and gadgets. The people respected the weather patterns. They respected nature.
Today the people rape the nature. There are 2557 stone quarries in this small state of Kerala many of which are in highly sensitive regions. When I was a school student, there used to be a hill about a kilometre from my home. That hill disappeared a few years ago: granite miners excavated it totally. So many hills have vanished from the state similarly.
Paddy fields which played a vital role in controlling the ground water flow vanished too. Resorts came up in their place. Residential apartments came up. The people of Kerala even levelled the backwaters and erected monstrous skyscrapers. And then they demolished some of them when the Court of Justice ordered. One wonders why Justice always opens its eyes too late. Anyway, that’s a different matter.
Forests have disappeared from the state. Those who know the Wayanad district will tell you how resorts have replaced forests there. And that district alone witnessed 250 severe landslides in 2018. 2018 was a disastrous year for Kerala. There were about 1000 major landslides in the state. Yet the people don’t seem to have learnt the necessary lessons.
Extreme weather patterns have become the norm in the state because of what the state has done to its environment. When it rains, it is a cloudburst and not just a rain. A few days back central Kerala witnessed severe landslides in a few places. The amount of rain that came down in four hours then was 200 mm. 200 mm of rain in 24 hours in considered as extremely intensive rain. And Poonjar received that much rain in just four hours.
This is going to become worse, according to scientists, unless the state takes serious actions. We need to rediscover our deities in the forests and rivers, paddy fields and backwaters, the majestic mountains and the little dragon flies.
PS. This post is part of Blogchatter's CauseAChatter #EnvironmentalTalks