Last year was a lot about the rains, but this year they haven’t come around too much – yet. Still, we did work very hard to argue about whether or not we had fixed broken drains and yawning potholes. So will the rains smash us again, just like on the 2017 Independence Day that brought the floods to break a 115-year record?
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Maybe not. Last year, the North-West monsoons outstayed their welcome till their South-East cousins hammered them. This time it isn’t a panic situation of fighting guests that we did not know about. We do now know we had bad guests and we were awful hosts and that it might happen again. And we do know that we have done nothing to fight them either. So we are already prepared for the worst.
And even as we got belted, the floods were a “First Time” record-breaker that did not give notice that they would come, so the government was not at fault if the roads looked like memories and the houses look like mistakes. But what of this year? This time, the monsoons were actually knocking more than two months ago, though they became pretty irritable at being called “pre-monsoon” showers, so they exploded with wrath on Mangalore first. Our capital city was waiting in the wings, braced for the socker. What did the government do?
“What do you mean, what did we do,” asked an injured officer. “The elections got in the way, so what can we do?”
Point. Elections happened. The polls of course never killed anyone, while the monsoons did. Still, rains are not important during elections, so our state polls came home and sat down to share our dinner with us. Never in memory was an election an event of much interest, but this year, it became a showstopper. So even if the monsoons do not care who wins, they just had to give in to three aspirant Chief Ministers scrambling for three days. Two got sworn in within three days, one resigned and the third swore as he was resigned to not getting sworn. The one that finally remained was caught crying and might suddenly resign any day, so those responsible had to stand by patiently while the worry about whether the ruling party deserved to be the side-kicks for the losing party or not got solved.
But the glimmer of hope is that things don’t seem to be so bad, even though reports say that when the rains first crashed, there were 369 vulnerable points in low-lying areas, 30 under-progress areas, 5,800 potholes and 600 kms of roads under defect liability periods.
To fight floods, our governments have indeed launched some pretty impressive fighting forces that are so good that they have long names. The Meteorological Department, the Karnataka State Nature Disaster Monitoring Centre, the Emergency Response Force and the National Disaster Response Force. What are a few potholes and drains when we have so many impressive titles to fight them?
The good news is that as the elections are over the monsoons might soon get over too. The rains are not pouring too capaciously, so the afternoons are free and the evenings are emptier. Neither might do too much damage either if we are lucky for a short while – just another 115 years or so.