At least 32 people have died in floods triggered by the incessant rains in Province 2. The floods have submerged fields and settlements and washed away roads and bridges. The monsoon, which normally starts on June 10 every year, was nearly a month late this year and has delayed the plantation of paddy seedlings on large tracts of land across the country. The monsoon, according to meteorologists, is now active across the country, with heavy rains predicted at different places over the days, which means the people must be on their guard to face any eventuality. The monsoon season lasts till August end.
At times like this, the government has the major responsibility to expedite the search and rescue operations, and provide relief to those affected by the disasters.
The highways, whether in the hills or the plains, are the lifeline of the country, and they must stay clear of any obstructions caused by the rains to keep vehicles moving without a hitch. Doctors, medicines and logistics must be dispatched to the disaster-hit areas so as to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases. The police have done a good job, rescuing hundreds of people who were displaced by landslides in the hills and floods in the Madhes.
Now that Nepal is a federal state, all rescue and relief operations must be carried out in coordination with the provincial governments and the local levels. Instead of blaming one another for lapses and delays, the three tiers of government must work effectively to bring the life of those affected by the natural disasters to normalcy.
Flooding has been prevalent and unpredictable throughout Nepal during unusually heavy pre-monsoon showers this year. But even normal precipitation can trigger landslides because haphazard road construction disturbs natural drainage, unleashing flash-floods downstream.
The Disaster Risk and Management Act 2017 prioritises the role of local governments in disaster management.
Security forces at local levels have been trained for rescue and relief and are alerted when disaster is imminent. Though Nepal has improved its performance in rescue and relief, many parts of the Act are yet to be implemented. The government is still working on a comprehensive Disaster Information Management System, which is supposed to include information about areas at risk of hazards and the resources available nearby.
If the government made preparations in advance of the monsoon than the damage caused by floods and landslips could be minimized. Most of those who have died were swept away by the floods due to the rising level of water in the rivers. In this hour of crisis all Nepalis are showing solidarity with their affected fellow countrymen. Natural disasters like flooding and landslides are inevitable given the terrain of the country and we should be prepared for impending disasters.