Floods of 99 and 18 tell Kerala to implement Gadgil report

MG Radhakrishnan
Sun, 19-08-2018 02:20:20 PM ;

kerala flood

I’m no climate change nay-sayer. Am absolutely convinced that Kerala at this rate of ‘growth’, could soon drown in the depths of human-inflicted environmental crisis. I have also no doubt that our society today, under the shortsighted political and religious leaderships, has collectively defeated the implementation of Gadgil’s extremely important recommendations on Western Ghats, to our extreme peril. I am absolutely sure that the ongoing devastation by the flood has much to do with the environmental destruction of our own making. 


Yet, looking at some of the news reports and history of our legendary “floods of 99”, I am simply amazed to find the striking similarities between that and the present disaster. The similarities between what happened nearly a century ago and now indicate that both must have had some common triggers perhaps independent of the present or past state of environment.  The most striking is that the places worst affected by the 99 flood and the ongoing one are almost the same. Aluva, Munnar, Chalakkudi or Kaladi near Periyar as well as Chengannur beside Pampa and it’s tributaries.


It’s eerie that the very tiny villages or even buildings which are worst hit now were almost the same even during 1924!  Manikyamangalam or Sringeri Matom in Kaladi or Pandanadu or Tirumulapuram near Chengannur despite their lying so distantly separated from each other. Kaladi and Pandanad get special mention in 1924 flood reports.


It was while writing this I was reminded of what my dear friend and village mate Dr Muralee Thummarukudy wrote as early as 2013. But only after having witnessed the present flood that I read the self proclaimed “MT Randaaman” again to find him chillingly prophetic! 


“...കേരളത്തിലെ പ്രശസ്തമായ ‘തൊണ്ണൂറ്റൊമ്പതിലെ വെള്ളപ്പൊക്കം’ ഓര്‍ക്കുക. അന്ന് എവിടംവരെ വെള്ളം പൊങ്ങിയെന്ന്  ഇപ്പോഴും പലയിടത്തും രേഖപ്പെടുത്തിവെച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്. അത് ആയിരത്തി തൊള്ളായിരത്തി ഇരുപത്തി നാല് ജൂലൈ മാസത്തിലായിരുന്നു. തിരുവിതാംകൂറിന്റെ ഏറെ ഭാഗം വെള്ളത്തിനടിയിലായി.......

...കീടനാശിനി ഉണ്ടാക്കുന്ന ഫാക്ടറി മുതല്‍ വിമാനത്താവളം വരെയുള്ള വികസന പ്രവർത്തനങ്ങൾ കഴിഞ്ഞ അമ്പതു വർഷത്തിനകം നാം നടത്തിയിരിക്കുന്നത് തൊണ്ണൂറ്റൊമ്പതിൽ വെള്ളം കയറിയ സ്ഥലത്താണ്. ഇനിയൊരിക്കല്‍ ഇവിടെല്ലാം വെള്ളം കയറുമെന്നത്, അത്തരം ഒരു മഴ ഉണ്ടാകുമെന്നത് സ്റ്റാറ്റിസ്റ്റിക്കല്‍ ആയി ഉറപ്പാണ്. പുതിയതായി ഫ്ലാറ്റോ സൂപ്പർ മാർക്കറ്റൊ ഉണ്ടാക്കുന്നതിനു മുൻപ് ഇവിടെ പണ്ട് വെള്ളം പൊങ്ങിയിട്ടുണ്ടോ എന്നൊന്ന് അന്വേഷിക്കുന്നത് നന്നായിരിക്കും....നദിയുടെ എത്രവരെ വെള്ളം വരാമെന്ന് ഒരു തലമുറ കൊണ്ട് നാട്ടുകാർ മറന്നു പോകും. പക്ഷെ, പ്രകൃതിക്ക് മറവിയില്ല. പതിറ്റാണ്ടുകള്‍ക്കും നൂറ്റാണ്ടുകള്‍ക്കും ഇടയില്‍ പിന്നെയും നദി അതിന്റെ യഥാര്‍ത്ഥ അതിരുകളെ തിരിച്ചു പിടിക്കും......”


The devastation of 1924 of which a rerun we seem to witness now, had occurred much before we induced major climate changes, wantonly filled our paddy fields , water bodies and canals, greedily mined our rivers, ravaged our forests, recklessly built our ugly concrete jungles, constructed bunds chocking natural channels, dams, fancy airports on verdant fields. Perhaps the only factor present now and then and also suspected of destabilising environment is the Mullaperiyar dam. There were even unconfirmed reports that the 1924 flood was caused by a suspected breach in the dam.  


However what had provided a natural asylum to the affected in 1924 has been rendered almost completely extinct by us now. They are the multitude of hillocks around us we recklessly razed to ground in recent times. Reports about 1924 say in most places people had run to hillocks and temples on them and sought asylum irrespective of caste or religion. “Gushing waters had swept away untouchability” said a report. “Mattoor Kunnu where Sankara college stands now was the asylum for many in Kaladi...more than 8000 in Thiruvalla Thukalassery Thirumoolapuram etc in central Travancore saved their lives running to neighbouring hills....” said Deepika newspaper of 1924. 


So even as we know that the low pressure formed in Bay of Bengal and our own shortsightedness, ignorance and greed have contributed much to the present deluge, shouldn’t we also explore if there are causes hidden to our eyes for the seemingly cyclical flood that has revisited us after nearly a century? Any scientific clue?



Image result for mg radhakrishnan asianet The write up has been taken from the facebook post of Asianet News editor MG Radhakrishnan