218pp, Rs 499; Westland
Flooding has all the time threatened human habitation; however it’s now occurring too usually with disastrous penalties in sudden locations. These disasters are additionally occurring on a a lot bigger scale than prior to now with city floods, particularly, having turn into a critical phenomenon. If floods took water-stressed Chennai without warning in 2015, they shell shocked the deliberate metropolis of Chandigarh in 2017, and had Mumbai reeling in 2019. The repeat incidence of the devastating Kerala floods of 2018 has uncovered the ‘once-in-a-100-years’ flood concept to critical questioning.
285pp, Rs 399; Penguin
The havoc that floods wreaked this yr in a number of elements of the nation clearly point out that there’s extra to come back, even perhaps worse. That floods don’t simply occur however are brought about provides one other twist to the lengthy story. Piecing collectively the collective failure of the authorities to guard its inhabitants from an avoidable tragedy in Chennai, Krupa Ge brings to life the agony of the trapped in a touching account of these unforgiving waters of town rivers, relentless in reclaiming their rights over their course in Rivers Bear in mind.
In what reads like a digital cost sheet on these chargeable for water (mis)administration, together with storage, distribution and disposal, Ge is evident in her indictment on how provisions for efficient city planning had been compromised for the worst to happen. Such is the character of polity and governance that nobody will get penalized for making 1000’s endure. Armed with responses to a number of RTI functions, the narrative gives an authoritative studying on how to not handle water no matter would be the scenario.
Hardly ever have classes been learnt although, as callousness coupled with absolute vanity stays prime within the abuse of nature. In his travels by the ecologically wealthy panorama of the Western Ghats, journalist Viju B discovered hanging proof of simply such an perspective within the devastation unleashed by mining, quarrying, and deforestation in Flood and Fury. Combining journey writing and reportage with readings of historical past and literature, the writer elaborates the best way floods have been formed into the area by blocking pure channels by structural adjustments in land use.
Written with an investigative aptitude, these well timed books on the expertise of being flooded are a forewarning because the planet warms and the waters rise. With a number of locations being submerged beneath 12 to 15 toes of water in current instances, it has turn into a problem to handle catastrophe. Of their no-holds barred works, Ge and Viju proclaim that public establishments are caught in a time warp and are nowhere near matching the pace, enormity, and ferocity of water-induced disasters.
The fact behind the statistics and headlines of such artifical disasters are grim.
As relentless rains over a shorter window turn into a recurring phenomenon, it has by no means been extra compellingly pressing to boost the capability of storm drains and enhance dam outflow administration to buffer the sudden spike in monsoon outbursts. Paradoxically, the political-economy of funding within the water sector solely encourages the obfuscation of investigations on the causes of floods, and any directives on selling conservation over growth are glossed over.
The Chennai and Kerala disasters bear testimony to the business-as-usual strategy, which not too way back consumed 280 and 483 human lives respectively. Each books remind us that these weren’t remoted, freak incidents to be misplaced to historical past. As an alternative, they sign one thing graver as human interference and alterations to the pure panorama is forcing nature to turn into bitterly hostile. People might have brief recollections however rivers keep in mind to observe their course regardless of the scenario and dislodge any obstruction that is available in their approach.
Krupa Ge digs into the historical past and tradition of the Cooum, Adyar and Kasasthalaiyar rivers to assemble the why and the way of what befell Chennai. She is just not optimistic as as issues have begun to regress. Viju B factors out that the gross indifference to the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Skilled Panel (WGEEP) has led to the undoing of Kerala specifically, and the Western Ghats on the whole. Rivers Bear in mind and Flood and Fury are a wake-up name for planners and politicians to see past short-term vested pursuits. Each are a welcome addition to the restricted variety of books on the topic. Whereas basin-level planning, eco-restoration of catchments, and enhancing drainage techniques are all recognized, the usage of distant sensing in predicting the climate and forecasting floods alongside efficient inter-agency coordination will help reduce the impression of artifical floods. Indisputably, there’s a must make some strong plans to handle swirling waters within the 21st century.
Sudhirendar Sharma is an unbiased author, researcher and educational.