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


  1. Hari OM
    I have been reading with concern the recent onset of floods there and elsewhere yet again - it is true that mankind seems not to learn the lesson of balance with nature rather than the conquering of it. The matter is made more complex by the expansion of population and the need for more land for living and not simply cultivation... YAM xx

    1. True that the world has changed over the past few decades. Burgeoned population, changed lifestyles, pollutions of all sorts... have all imposed their shares of burden on the earth. But if you observe Kerala one thing you will notice is that half of the houses/apartments constructed are not occupied by anyone at all. People who have settled down comfortable abroad just buy up or construct these huge mansions and then leave them vacant. In my own neighbourhood which is a rather remote village there are over a dozen such houses. I mean to say there's a lot of unnecessary construction taking place. Sometimes I am left wondering whether people have gone absolutely insane.

    2. Ha ha, the other day, I heard a minister taking pride in answering to a question in a media discussion why Kerala is keen only in developing the educational institutions and not manufacturing, that the educational institutions are producing qualified candidates, who seek employment in foreign countries and send back remittances to the state. Yes these people who work abroad are sustaining the manufacturing-less Kerala's economy. They buy houses, pay taxes, and they don't become economic burdens to the state. The real issue is the state is corrupt unable to handle the wheel of justice and equality. That should becthe role of governments, but not be the agents and benamies of the corrupt.

      Why hasn't the scientific community there developed research to find an alternative material for home construction? Has it really got a research based development? Nothing, the fact got exposed in the time of pandemic. Kerala is not God's country, the unrealistic and exaggerated projection of what it is not will help only to bring more disaster to the place.

    3. Indeed a whole lot of things are wrong with this state. That may be one reason why a lot of people are leaving and settling down abroad. Yeah, that brings in money too. So the government's happy too. Look at the state's revenue. The major share comes from liquor and lottery, absolutely unproductive and wasteful methods of generating money. It's extortion.

      The real catastrophe is not the natural disasters but our politicians most of whom are worthless people fit to be street goons.

  2. Without any further delay, its time to act for the benefit of everyone.

  3. We're already in a state of worse, and even if we don't look back now and realize the mistake, nothing is supposed to say. Not only Kerala, but Tamil Nadu also faces a similar situation esp. around the places of western ghats where deforestation and resorts are doing well. We had our historical downpour in 2015 in Chennai, and being a victim, we understand the suffering of others. But people get back to where they are once the water recedes, forget that nature has marked its border, and will return if we didn't clear the waterways. Lastly, I think we need selfless leaders and honest officers to monitor illegal activities of people because it is impossible without these people.

    1. You said it. We keep forgetting, we refuse to learn, we fail to act... And our leaders are as bad as ourselves.


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