Our WhatsApp and Facebook are filled with heart-wrenching images and mind-shattering videos of the recent floods in Kerala. The intensity and the impact of this tragedy is beyond words and imagination, both in terms of loss of life and livelihood. Surely the consequences and future shock-waves of this destruction will be felt for many more months to come.
Regrettably, in the midst of the rescue operations and nationwide relief aids the natural disasters of this magnitude bring out another heartless and destructive wave, a blast of accusations and allegations against people of faith, and ultimately against God Himself. I do not understand why we bring God or even religion here.
The Supreme Court order on allowing woman to enter Sabarimala or the Bishop misdeeds does not cause Natural Disasters. Evangelist Lazarus Mohan wagging his tongue on “certain Hindu practices” for the cause of floods simply creates tension and disturbs the communal harmony. Rain is a natural phenomenon it happens irrespective of whether God wants it to happen or not. But Rain turning out to be a Natural Disaster is purely because of our irresponsibility. It is recorded that in the year 1924 southwest monsoon rainfall was the highest. A total of 3,368 mm water poured from the sky for a continuous three weeks and most parts of Kerala at that time were submerged. This year monsoon has not yet poured as much as it did in the year 1924.
According to the Meteorological Department, the cumulative rainfall for Kerala between 1st of June to 15th of August this year was 2,087 mm. This is just an increase of 30 per cent from the normal 1,606 mm rainfall which Kerala receives every year. With a few days of monsoon still to go there are chances that the 1924 record could be breached. But the major question that needs to be answered is why has this simple rain turned out to be a Natural Disaster???
Western Ghats also known as Sahyadri mountain range is believed to be Parashurama Kshetra. Western Ghats is spread over six states with end-to-end length of 1,490 Kms and minimum width being 48 km to maximum width of 210 km. This hill range which is the backbone of Kerala is not only taken for granted but also is hugely exploited. In order to provide ecological security to this hill range the “Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel” was formed under Sri. Madhav Dhananjaya Gadgil, founder of the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.
The committee also called “Gadgil Committee” suggested that this hill range be classified in three zones as per the requirement of environmental protection in the areas. The committee strongly recommended restrictions on mining, quarry, use of land for non-forest purposes and construction of high raised buildings. The irony is that of the six states Kerala reacted wildly against the report.
Between the year 1920 and 1940 a large-scale migration of Syrian Christians took place from Central-South Kerala to northern regions of Kerala, this phenomenon is known as “Malabar Migration.” They acquired forest land in Wayanad and other areas by taking the revenue officials into confidence. Forest and waste land in huge volumes were converted into farms and plantations during this period and this became a threat to the ecosystem of Western Ghats. Keralites especially Christian organisations strongly protested the implementation of the report since most of the farmers in the hilly regions were Christians, especially in Wayanad region. Amidst the agitation against the Gadgil Committee Report, the Catholic Bishop of Idukki threatened, “in Kerala they will create another Kashmir” if the Kerala Government did not discard the proposals of Gadgil. This threat is still alive.
Owing to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church pressure the Kerala Government rejected the committee report and did not adopt any of its recommendations to safe guard our Western Ghats.
Now, simple Rain has turned into Natural disaster here……who is to be blamed???