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Braving the heat and monsoon

Braving the heat and monsoon

The monsoon rains have arrived in Western India and the Mumbai region, in particular, has experienced incessant and heavy downpour in the past weeks. As usual, it has caused flooding in many parts of the city, throwing normal life out of gear in different incidents. So far, an upscale residential complex has collapsed and four people have lost their life. While the rains have brought the much-needed relief from the scorching heat, it has also brought problems for the people and the civic bodies, who now have to deal with a flood-like situation in the city. In the countryside, however, the onset of the monsoon rains is a matter of joy and happiness as the farming community looks forward to kick-starting farming activities for the most important agricultural season of the year. The country's economy depends heavily on the monsoon rains, which directly impact the agricultural output. For the vast majority of the people in the country who solely depend on agriculture for their livelihood, a good monsoon is a matter of critical importance. If the monsoon is deficient, the farming activities take a hit and the agricultural output is incommensurate with the farmers' investment and hard work. An excessive rain brings floods and inundates the farming land, causing similar losses to farmers. At a time when farmers across the country are suffering from low yield and rising agricultural cost, the importance of a balanced monsoon cannot be overstressed.

Far from the pleasant experience of the monsoon rains, the heatwave is continuing in many other parts of the country including the national capital. The monsoon is expected to arrive in Delhi and most parts of north India on June 29. The people are eagerly waiting for some respite from the continued heat and dry spell as the mercury has been continuously hovering around 45-degree Celcius. The fact that Delhi has the maximum number of vehicles and that most people use air conditioners to escape from the scorching heat further add to prevailing heat in the city. With the onset of summer, Delhi turns into a virtual heat chamber from which there is no escape. The Yamuna is polluted beyond repair and a bath in the river is inconceivable. Much of the green belt in the capital city has been claimed by the numerous development projects that have been implemented in the recent past. Recently, the central government has approved a project to redevelop residential facilities for central government employees in South Delhi, which would require felling of more than 16,000 trees. Though the Delhi high court has stayed the decision to cut the trees till July 4 when it would resume hearing in the matter, the decision to cut 16,000 trees for a development project is a grim reminder of how development projects are eating up the precious nature and greenery around us. India receives a tremendous amount of rains during the monsoon but we fail to harvest the water and store it for use through the year. Many parts of the country face acute shortage of water but we have no plans to tap the monsoon rains and supply the water to the arid land of Vidarbha, Saurashtra, and Rajasthan. Similarly, there is little infrastructure countrywide to harvest the rainwater and use it for the round-the-year agricultural activity. Looking at the necessity of water for agricultural and household purposes for a vast country like India, the government should have a more pro-active water management policy to maximise the benefits of the monsoon rains. Similarly, the government should recognise the long spell of scorching heat that prevails in a large part of the country as a problem and develop the necessary infrastructure to provide a relief from it to the people who have to stay outside their homes during the day. Creating cool public shelters equipped adequately where people can take a shelter during the day, and setting-up water dispensing kiosks for the people who are out of their homes for different reasons are some of the measures that can be implemented immediately. As of now, the poor and the menial workers have no facility to escape from the harsh summer while those who can afford either stay at home or move around in air-conditioned vehicles. In a country where the majority of the people are poor, the government needs to take measures that reflect that the government cares about them. During the scorching summer and the chaotic monsoon season, the normal life in India is adversely affected and the government and civic agencies should implement adequate measures to mitigate the harshness of the weather.

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