Natural Disasters that are Man-Made: The Importance of Clean, Proper Drainage Systems

The past week has witnessed two serious disasters in Sikkim. The incessant rains have caused heavy damages in areas surrounding Bhojogari and Tashi View Point resulting in few families being evacuated. And last night, there was a landslide in Sichey that caused a lot of damage even claiming a life. The monsoons are beginning and like every year, Sikkim is gearing up to deal with the rains. But the impact of the monsoons and incessant rains have increased over the years.

Natural Disasters that are Man-Made: The Importance of Clean, Proper Drainage Systems

In major cities across India, incessant rains have caused major flooding over the past years. And various studies conducted suggest that the fundamental reasons behind such flooding are lack of proper drainage systems and encroachment into waterways and waterbodies. Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, has witnessed several floods and loss of property and damage over the years. In studying the physical map of the city, one can understand that the areas severely affected by the floods were those which had come up over existing low-lying water bodies or that lay in the path of waterways. As most natural drainage systems were blocked and other man-made drainage systems were clogged, the rainwater could not find a way to flow away, resulting in the flooding of the city. This has been the case with many other Indian cities for years. 

Sikkim, as a state, lies in the Eastern Himalayas. The Eastern Himalayas are also known as the ‘young Himalayas’ as the mountains here are not as mature as the others in the Himalayan range. And this, in turn, makes it prone to landslides. Anything that is fragile must be handled with care; the same goes with our environment. And no matter how much effort the government or bodies in charge put in, it is up to us mankind to care about our surroundings and environment. With the beginning of the monsoon, the civic body is preparing and implementing various measures to prevent disasters like landslides and flooding. But an equal initiative should come from the citizens’ end too. Almost every jhora in Sikkim has a signboard next to it that indicates throwing garbage into the jhora is a punishable offence and individuals found doing so will be acted against. Do such warnings seem to have any impact at all? What do we, as citizens expect next? For the government to install CCTV cameras near every jhora? Or maybe post a policeman to penalize people doing so? The need of the hour is for a chance to come in the thought process of everyone. We should feel a sense of belonging to our society and environment. The actual need is awareness, sensitivity and a sense of belonging. That’s when the change would come. 

It is just the beginning of monsoons and we are already into two major disasters. Let us try and contribute to our surroundings by not littering in public spaces, reducing the usage of plastics and above all, responsible disposal of construction and industrial waste. It is important for everyone to step up and maintain a clean and healthy environment to prevent disasters and tread towards a safe and better tomorrow. 

 By Vaidyanath Nishant. The author is a freelance writer, he can be contacted at vaidyanathnishant7@gmail.com