Rehabilitation and Development
Create a new post of Cabinet Minister! Station him or her in Dehradun!
This is a national disaster! The Uttarkhand Speaker, Govind Singh Kunjwal, had put the loss of lives at 10,000 while the Union home minister puts it at 900.
Whose figures the public would believe?
Surely, the local man would only be trusted. Whatever is the real loss it is too much and it is too much for a state and for a routine job.
The existing National Disaster Development Agency (NDMA) can’t handle the enormity of the disaster. The NDMA is not known as of now and its credibility is yet to be assessed. What work it had done? What is it?
The usual media hype that the NDMA’s chairman is the Prime Minister is no consolation. The PM lends his name as a matter of routine.There are many such agencies, including the Gandhi Smiriti whose chairman is also the PM. But we know from experience that the next person in charge of the Gandhi Smiriti she can’t even meet the PM!
So, any decorative name is no consolation.Let us at least know now what the NDMA has done so far. In the last fortnight or so. What we need to focus here is the enormity of the tragedy.
The news that some 2,400 villages have been completely washed out is enough to indicate that the rehabilitation and resurrection of the lives of the devasted people is no easy task.
Also, there is the very critical reality that Uttarkhand falls under the 544-km central sector of the 4,057 km Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control (LAC).In fact the state faces the Tibetan Autonomous Region, where the Chinese Liberation Army has the capability to move its troops, 30 divisions of 15,000 men by using its own very strong 58,000 long road network swiftly. This dimension of the reality makes it much more strategic to think radically and in an unorthodox manner.
Our government doesn’t enjoy the confidence of the people, nor the elite as for its boldness of decision-making and action.
So, this special alert.
Already we start getting bits of news about the CAG report’s finding. One news item says that the very data collecting machinery is not yet in place. The National Database for Emergency Management (NEDM) has by now been completed. The date is 2011. Till June 2012 Rs.6.34 crores spent. Bu the project is non-operational!
This typical of the government activeness. So, let us not get bogged down in disputes on any of these issues. The whole country is shocked beyond any limits at what had hit the mountainous beautiful region that met with such a disaster?
Words fail to describe things. The very visual pictures are really overwhelming. The barren print media coverage itself is heart-breaking.
So much devastation in our living memories is beyond our tolerance limits.There is need for serious action. What is the enormity of the loss?
We have to quickly assess the damages.
Who would do this?
Not the home ministry, right?
Then by whom?
There is no word from anybody. Not even there seems to be wide sympathy across the corporate spectrum. Only one corporate house, the Himalayan Institute of Hospital Trust runs a 1,000 bed hospital and it has adopted 50 villages for rehabilitation, fine. But what about the rest of the 2,400 villages that are named in the first count?
Where are the initiatives from our corporates? The big and the not so big names. This is not an honourable topic for discussion and criticism.We need some really bold, unorthodox initiatives. What are some new ideas?
We have to create a new authority. Create a new Cabinet Minister in charge of Uttarkhand disaster management portfolio. Allot funds separately. A full-time, high profile person must be names to this task.
Not the usual routine low. Competency would do. The trouble with the present governance system is that we go by the quota system. First we, select the alliance partners. Then, they name their own favourites? Then the usual suspects, the social quota have its own compulsions. So, finally one gets selected, utterly unsuited, unqualified and totally corrupt, or corruption-prone.
Sorry for these harsh words. Are these words too harsh to the enormity of the tragedy that really calls for herculean efforts?
As for funds, we have to come out with some national sharing.
Since this is a national disaster, the states may be asked to share their responsibility, a certain percentage of the state revenues, spread out on a five-year term basis.
That way, the states would also feel part of this national rehabilitation effort. Then, there is the need for a new articulation of a Grand National task, very much on the lines how the Japanese people shared in their tsunami disaster.
The Minister can be even a total outsider to the party system. He or she can be a new face that can inspire confidence and credibility.
Even a technocrat or an NGO face. Any person who volunteers to undertake this gigantic task. This is a lifetime’s great task. The country can openly call for the volunteers who can come forward to undertake this great national building task.
The point is that such an effort must be beyond partisan interests. It must a national consensus based effort.
Let us see whether we say a nation, has the will and the nerve to rise up to this challenge.
The situation might not improve very soon. It would linger on with us, with those faces, the great many tragic faces, the lives lost, the lives saved and the lives that are yet to be put on a permanent basis.
There are people who are hit by a trauma and those within Uttarkhand itself are to be attended. Besides, every state has its quota of people hit hard, lost their dear and near, their kith and kin and every one, to the last one needs to be soothed and held out our hands of friendship and sympathy.
The subject is too much to write in a normal manner. So, we rest with these words.
The three-year old girl child, without her parents left alone, would haunt the nation forever!