The school had a day off due to heavy rains and floods in many parts of Goa due to the continuous rains. The next day the teacher came to class and after the usual ‘good morning’ exchanges, she began with a serious tone.
“We have witnessed unprecedented heavy rains this year almost all over our state of Goa as well as other states in the country. Although we cannot control the rains we can prepare ourselves to face the situations arising out of such natural outbursts. Our first priority will always be human life and then the animal life like the pets and the cattle. Today because of extensive mobile connectivity and the television coverage across the country it is possible to get the precautionary warnings well in advance. We must start preparing as soon as these warnings are given. And instead of depending on government agencies to help the public in these times, we must be vigilant and alert so that we are prepared to withstand such situations without much panic. People usually learn from such situations but today we have so much of information that we do not have to actually go through the situations to learn how to face them. We have the data and have seen various episodes across the world about how people have suffered in similar situations and how they stay prepared for such disasters. We have to just learn from their experiences. We have been watching the hardships of people stranded in water, how the water levels have been rising, how the houses have been submerged, and how many landslide videos are being uploaded, how the army personnel and local people courageously help the elderly, women and children to reach safer places,” said the teacher.
“Can flooding be prevented? Or perhaps we should build houses at a height and not at ground level in areas where there is a danger of flooding,” said Raju.
“Or demarcate low lying areas and make parks and gardens there so that no one lives there,” said Rahul.
“Do you think it is easy? With the developments comes a need of urbanisation, we construct high rise buildings and roads and other infrastructure to support urbanisation – but in doing so we forget the natural topography of the areas. A natural drainage system gets developed over years and the rainwater runs through this drainage system. Allowing some water to seep underground and excess water to flow down streams to meet bigger channels of flowing water. You must have seen, several small bridges or conduits are made while the roads are built so that the water flow across the roads is maintained. The landfills alter the course of natural drain and can cause flooding. Remember that things will work when in normal limits but in abnormal natural conditions like excess rains, excess heat or excess cold, or calamities like earthquakes we will have to be prepared to respond to survive.”
(Writer is a mechanical engineer and runs a hands-on science activity centre at Margao)