" The waters rose by a foot every five minutes and reached the third storey of buildings!" That is what the man said. And he also said " In last twenty years, the forests have disappeared, and with it the root systems that act as sponges to trap the water and pull it in" - and so the story goes, on and on, the history repeating itself consistently and more frequently with passing time
Losses, in terms of human lives, have been staggering, displacements - colossal, loss of livelihood, habitats, environment - enormous and mostly irreversible. None of this is unusual for India. Nor is the massive show of solidarity, support and the outpourings of sympathy for victims of natural disasters, such as this one, from people across nation.
The question to ask is, what would we do, as a nation, people, to ensure that such large scale disasters do not continue to be a part of our future? What would we go without, what aspects of our priorities would we change, to not have this happen, again and again? Will we not fell down our forests? not dam our rivers? not level our mountains or empty our mangroves? What would we not do - to avoid this fate on ourselves, and our fellow country people??
The most honest answer, it seems to me, is 'nothing' - we would not fore go any of our destructive practices, neither because these practices are wrong, nor because they pose a very real physical threat contributing directly to potential disasters, by removing safety valves that are naturally built into natural systems. By acts of deliberate human interference, we are in fact inducing man made calamities to befall us - naturally. And we do this, to be more developed, more progressed, more consuming...we sacrifice our land, water, forests, mountains, air, to have more - roads, malls, super deluxe colonies; more wealth, more cars, more possessions, more power, more comfort. We are becoming a nation of immoderate consumers ready to sacrifice a lot at the alter of Lakshmi. And then when the nature reacts, rebels, floods, fires, cracks its belly, we cry, shout, shame on nature - and then continue - as before.