The recent Chennai floods left the city in a cataclysmic state and also questioned us of how prepared we really are, when any such tragedy occurs. A natural calamity is something that no one can predict and it can occur anytime, anywhere. What we can do on our part is stay vigilant and be aware about the mitigation techniques.
The initiative ‘Fix Our Cities’ by The Hindu, underlined the main areas of concern and the lessons that we must learn from the Chennai floods. ‘Fix Our Cities’ will look at existing safety standards and policies in the respective cities which place, but are not implemented properly. It is a six part series and we have already discussed about the first three parts.
The fourth part talks about the people who lost their livelihood in the Chennai floods and what the government has done to fix this problem. During these floods or during any such natural emergency, innumerable people lose their livelihoods and are bound to start building their lives from scratch. It is extremely painstaking for anyone to start all over again. However, the main question that arises here is, what amount of funds and provisions does the government need to fix the lives of such people? The government provided relief funds to help Chennai and they were consumed in the rescue and treatment of the victims. However, not much of it was left for rehabilitation purposes.
The government should prepare sufficient budget and should keep it separate from other policies, and this should be used in the reallocation and reformation of the lives of the people hit by a natural calamity.
The fifth part of the series highlighted a less-concentrated issue which is noticed by a very few. People, who go through a life-shattering experience like a natural calamity, often develop mental illness. At times, such incidents leave people in trauma that leads to various forms of anxiety issues and mental disorders.
The Chennai floods witnessed an increase in the calls at mental asylums and psychiatrists. Due to this another aspect that came to light, it was faced with a serious shortage of mental health professionals. The pressing problem of brain drain that this country has been facing was evident during this time.
These professionals leave the country for better opportunities abroad, which leads to a loss of quality psychological assistance in the country. There are more Indian psychiatrists outside the country than within it.
This issue does not limit itself to befit a natural calamity but it also highlights the state of mental health treatment and condemns the paucity of mental-treatment in our country overall.
Adequate recognition of mental health, the consequences of its ignorance and provision of both medical and social welfare responses is necessary for persons affected by disasters.
The sixth and the last installment emphasized on the need to include the differently-abled in strategies for disaster management. Medical care for people with special needs also became a problem during the floods. This disaster that left a harrowing effect on all social classes was even more hellish for people with disabilities. The lack of warning of the impending floods in Chennai made it extremely difficult for people with disabilities, who were left to fend for themselves. Many lost essential equipments like hearing aids, crutches, and so on, leaving them more vulnerable than ever.
The government should devise ways and strategies that include allocation and salvaging of the disabled masses at the time of disasters.
The campaign ‘Fix Our Cities’ was a small step towards a large problem. It was embarked with the hope that it awakens the government as well as the people, regarding an important issue, viz. disaster preparedness and management.
It is high time that we must start incorporating safe and planned surroundings that we are all entitled to.