War of words, blame game and mudslinging between political parties is not uncommon in India, even during natural calamities. Many politicians prefer to take a dig at each other when they should be working together to help the victims. We have witnessed this on several occasions in the past, including the 2013 devastating floods in Uttarakhand that killed thousands of people. This old habit may not die very soon but it is beginning to change of late – for the better. The intensity of criticism and fights between the lawmakers has decreased over the years, thanks to timely precautionary measures being taken by both the governments at the centre and the state. India managed to minimise fatalities when cyclone Fani struck Odisha earlier last month. The extremely severe cyclonic storm left a trail of destruction in the state after it made landfall and dozens of people lost their lives but the casualties could have been much more had the authorities not taken precautionary measures well in advance. Fortunately, cyclone Vayu that was expected to make landfall in the coastal districts of Gujarat on June 13 morning changed its course, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). This time too, the authorities were prepared, which include evacuation of lakhs of people to safer locations, tourists being asked to leave the coastal areas, flights and trains cancelled, and the National Disaster Response Force and Indian army were put on alert for rescue operations in case such a need arises. What needs to be noted here is the preparedness of the state government to deal with any eventuality that may arise due to the cyclonic storm.
When floods and landslides caused by incessant rains created havoc in Nagaland last year, some lawmakers were busy criticising the government instead of working together to help those affected by the inclement weather. People, especially those from remote villages had a hard time. Many government departments, non-governmental organisations and villagers took part in rescue operations and in clearing roadblocks but it took more time than it should to get back to normalcy. It was all due to lack of preparedness. With the monsoon expected to arrive the state in the next few weeks, it is necessary to check if the state is prepared for any eventuality. Well, the citizens of the state seem to be more aware and serious this time around if the cleanliness drive being carried out by several organisations and communities is any indication. The state government too seems to be more prepared as several road projects have been taken up during the last one year, with those in Dimapur and Kohima done with concrete drainages to avoid water clogging. To evade difficult situation like last year where the state had to bring in two choppers from the Indian Air Force for evacuation and relief purposes during the monsoon, the state government has inducted a new helicopter that comes with medical facilities. Officials have said that common people and those for medical evacuation can avail 75 percent subsidy for chopper service (no subsidy for VIPs, bureaucrats and government servants). It may look like a small initiative but it will be of great help in a state like Nagaland that has tough topography and terrain. Every effort, including the recent cleanliness drive will help. The government as well as the public should be prepared for the monsoon. Only preparedness can minimise fatalities during natural calamities.