Search, body count continue The tragedy of it all

The search continues, the body count too continues and in the process are added more widows and orphans. This is the reality, a reality tinged with tragedy and underlining the point that when nature strikes, there is nothing much that man can do, despite the advances that have been made in all walks of life. Government agencies including the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Assam Rifles, Army, CRPF, district administration ably assisted by people of Tupul and the adjoining areas have risen to the occasion and put in their best foot forward to retrieve whatever can be salvaged and in the process have been able to rescue 18 people from the landslide and retrieve at least 34 bodies, that is till July 2. The Chief Minister himself has been there twice and so is a team of Ministers from the BJP led Government at Imphal and representatives of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah lost no time in extending solidarity to the bereaved families and so did West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. All indications that when tragedy strikes, the Nation as one must stand together. This apart the question in the mind of all those who have been keenly following the developments is, whether another catastrophe of such a magnitude or even a lesser magnitude is a possibility, especially if the rain continues uninterrupted in the next few days. As things stand now, reports of three other landslides on the Imphal-Jiribam highway have come in, triggering more apprehension that Manipur may see a repeat or something of a repeat of June 29 midnight. The landslides have been reported from Nungdolan, Sibilong and Nungkao-all places on the Imphal-Jiribam line. All indications that the areas along this line, where the tragic landslide occurred are vulnerable and if the rain continues, it can only get worse. The natural question is, what are the steps that have been mooted to minimise the impact on human lives ?
Urging the people to stay away from the course of Ijei river, especially after the mud from the crumbling mountain formed a sort of a huge dam on the river, is fine, but there is the need to look beyond the river and look at the bigger picture. Move the people who are staying at vulnerable areas, especially along the highway to some places deemed to be safer. There is no way that nature can be reined in and the least that is expected of the Government is to take up steps to minimise the impact on human lives. The night of June 29, 2022 will continue to haunt the collective psyche of the people of Manipur and those who have lost their near and dear ones for years to come but in the process let this also be a reminder to all that it makes absolutely no sense to keep on making the hills barren. Today it is Marangching and tomorrow it may be other spots. And one here is not only talking about landslides or mudslides, but about natural disasters such as an earthquake. And Manipur lies in a seismologically active zone. The Marangching tragedy should be a grim reminder to all that trees and undergrowths should be left as they are and not tampered with. Deforestation can have devastating impact. Let the search continue and here is praying that the Rain God does not decide to open up at this point of time.