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Many reasons for man made floods in AP and Karnataka?

Warning: A rambling rant without any external links.

My last blog post was a translation of a famous scene from the Telugu film, Daana Veera Sura Karna. As the saying goes in Telugu, there are a thousand reasons for Karna's death.It needed the coming together of many banes (शाप, శాపాలు) to have Karna killed.

This could also be true for the floods raging over parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka for the past one week.Where does one start when pinpointing the reasons for these floods? May be some one like P.Sainath should write a book called - Every one loves a flood?

The straightforward reason is the belated reaction or negligence by the Government officials in charge of manning the sluice gates of the various reservoirs.It is evident that these civil engineers (how many of them have studied in donation engineering colleges and bought their jobs through bribes?) seemed to lack the expertise or even a sense of professionalism required for the jobs. They need not have discovered the optimal capacity of the reservoirs along river Krishna.Those details have been documented in the Krishna River Water Management Manual. I am sure the staff working at these reservoirs would have access to the latest, updated version of this manual.If not a soft copy, at least a hard copy.Then why did they wait for the water levels to cross the danger mark? Does this merit an investigation to ensure that such calamities do not happen again due to 'not reading the manual'?

One would expect the reservoir facilities to have systems in place that have automatic triggers or checks.Sadly, no one seems to be talking about these things. Whilst I am not an expert in structural engineering, I believe that our river water management systems have enough automation in place to ensure that data about the water flows in upper riparian areas in trasmitted in real time to the lower riparian reservoirs and dams. If yes, did these systems work or not?

I have been reading in the news papers and watching 'experts' on the channels, talking about 'nature's fury'. What fury? These were torrential rains no doubt, but not on the scale of a cyclone or a Tsunami. The rainfall recorded in Karnataka or AP was not so heavy that entire cities and villages get submerged.And then the conspiracy mongers in the Congress-controlled press (The Slimes of India, especially) with headlines in their Hyderabad edition that scream - 'Karnataka floods AP', implying that the BJP Govt in Karnataka was to blame for the flooding of Kurnool and Mahboob Nagar districts in AP.I fail to understand what the Karnataka Govt would gain by causing floods in AP. I mean, isn't all this controlled by the Central Water Commission's engineers who are placed in all important river side towns? Also, who allowed the construction of Almatti dam in Karnataka?

Let us accept, for argument's sake, that the 'over greedy' Karnataka farmers pressurised their Govt to build a structure that could cause flooding in the lower riparian regions.Why did successive AP governments (both TDP and Congress) not fight against it effectively? Why did successive Union Govts (both NDA and UPA), not mediate appropriately? I traveled in that parts of Karnataka a few years back.And I was not surprised to see that most of the beneficiary lands from Almatti dam were owned by farmers from Krishna and Guntur districts of AP.Yes, these agricultural entrepreneurs went and bought hundreds of acres each in Karnataka. And most the civil works for the dam were being handled by contractors from Rayalaseema districts of AP (most of them being Congress politicians or those associated with the late honorable YSR).

Can we then infer that due to the vested financial interests of businessmen-politicians, such ecologically destructive dams and reservoirs were allowed to go ahead, and the issue/s were seen as disputes between State Govts, over what was actually a national resource?

Over 300, 000 people have been displaced in AP alone in the last 3 days.The death toll is not clear yet because the authorities have failed to reach several flooded villages and small towns. The holy town of Mantralayam has become a watery grave for dozens of devotees and locals. The Raghavendra Swamy Math has been destroyed completely and the TV channels are showing visuals of dead bodies hanging from the temple walls. And yet, the authorities are unable to reach Mantralayam. How can TV channels manage to go there, but officials can't?

Now, the usual charade of aerial surveys by the CMs, Ministers, sundry politicians etc has been going on for the past 2 days.No one seems to have thought that instead of using the choppers to do aerial surveys for the benefit of a CM, they could have pressed into relief work.When hundreds of thousands of people need to be rescued or given food or water, how can a fleet of 11 choppers suffice? And the biggest joke is that the CM of AP was kept waiting for almost half a day because the official chopper was not ready, 72 hours after the floods broke.It was pathetic to see the same State Govt that acted so efficiently to locate a missing CM last month, express their inability on TV that the flood situation is so serious we just have to hope that the waters recede, before venturing out for relief works.

As always, the various quasi-political and religious-charity organizations have stepped up and doing a commendable job.A friend called me from the G.Pulla Reddy Engineeing college campus in Kurnool city.He was a volunteer in a huge camp being run by the VHP (yes, the same people who are shunned by city elite) that is outdoing the entire Govt machinery in providing relief. In many villages, the Church buildings have provided shelter for the displaced.And I am sure the voluntary organizations associated with the Churches are definitely doing their bit.

There is a dire need to review the entire irrigation policy in India.Check dams and other minor irrigation projects are more effective, but most of the funds seem to be earmarked for mega irrigation projects, which provide water to thousands of acres, but also make several thousand acres become shallow, not to speak of thousands of displaced people. But we can't just remove the huge reservoirs already built. There has to be a more effective command and control process for how the water levels in these reservoirs are managed. The way we seem to allow all upper riparian States to build major irrigation projects so indiscriminately, we are headed for more such man made ecological disasters. For all the intellectuals focused on national interest, the bigger danger seems to be from China's plans to divert river Brahmaputra and build probably the world's largest reservoir, just before the river enters India. If China chooses, it could unleash an ecological disaster on India and Bangladesh that could be worse than a few nuclear bombs.It makes sense, therefore to engage with China on these matters. But who will engage with various State Govts to ensure that we don't create such disasters within the country? Where does the accountability lie? Why is the Central Water Commission (CWC also stands for Congress Working Committe btw, and that body is equally symbolic) such an ineffective entity? If TN or Maharashtra govts do not respect the judgement of river water tribunals, isn't there any thing the rest of the Nation can do?

Questions and more questions. As the saying goes, there are thousand reasons for Karna's death.

Finally, readers of murder mysteries are familiar with the principle - who gets the money. In any murder scenario, the good detective always looks at the motives of the suspects. The present flood situation has completely pushed the issue of 'Jagan as CM' to the backstage.The Congress high c0mmand is concerned about the flood havoc, but would also be heaving a sigh of relief because the Jagan camp has gone silent.Politically motivated floods are not new in India (ask the CPM Govt in West Bengal about the floods a few years ago, that wiped out dozens of villages that were supporting Trinamool Congress), and as a rule, the mainstream media doesn't highlight such events. It is the official machinery that gets blamed for the indecision that resulted in the floods.

Okay, on second thoughts, I take it back.Let me state clearly that I don't see a conspiracy theory here.I just see inefficiency and apathy from the State Govt and its officials.Let the flood ravaged people make the choice next time around when elections come.

The entire bureaucracy of Andhra Pradesh, however, have blood on their hands. I pray to all Gods to ensure that these officials realize this, and atone for it by not being corrupt or communal about the relief work.Is that a tall order too?


snehilrathore said…
hello sir, iam snehil, a student of disaster management in TATA INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES.iam going for relief work in Andhra from 7th november to 14th december.before this i was really wondering that where things actually went wrong which wrought havoc in andhra, ur blog really gave me a sense of enlightment, cleared the bleak picture and now my aims nd targets for andhra are crystal clear,this is very true sir that we under the shade of natural fury hide the real man-made causes,catalysts of disasters and this is the reason of their recurrence. sir if u want to give me any suggestion or guidance, plz make me priviledge with that as it will help me while doing relief work in afffected site.
Kumar Narasimha said…
Thanks, Snehil. I am just an amateur digging into the local newspapers and pointing out the obvious lacunae in the system.You and your group deserve a huge applause for participating in the relief work. If you are in Hyderabad during this time, I would be happy to meet you.

Sachin said…
where are you.....eagerly waiting for your next post...its been more than a month.

Warm Regards
Kumar Narasimha said…
Hi Sachin,

Thanks. I am very much around, though I have not been able to post on this blog.Will be posting one today.

karishma said…
HI SIR,I am enlightened with your thoughts......I m doin a research on the topic stating that natural calamities like floods are man made and not natural in nature...thanks sir for sharing this piece of information of yours.this has really helped me alot.
karishma said…
HI SIR,I am enlightened with your thoughts......I m doin a research on the topic stating that natural calamities like floods are man made and not natural in nature...thanks sir for sharing this piece of information of yours.this has really helped me alot.