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Disaster management needs aggressive approaches

Mumbai has been experiencing its heaviest rainfall of the season since the past couple of days. This is good news for a city that experienced a worrying dry June.

Yet, with all the good news, comes some bad news too. Monsoon-related disasters are on the rise and our response has been weak and wanting in some areas. Yesterday, a wall collapsed in the Chembur-Vashi area, killing a five-year-old boy, who unfortunately would become just another statistic in a spate of monsoon-related disasters afflicting the country.

While everything cannot be blamed on authorities who face huge challenges in a crowded city, our disaster management needs much more thought and long-term vision.

So many of our public structures have no avenues of easy escape, in case of fire. Residential buildings do not conform to fire safety requirements. We, authorities and people alike, wait for a disaster to happen and only thenrespond to it, instead of putting stress on having strategies in place in anticipation of a disaster.

In the monsoon, open manholes often are not marked well or visibly enough. During floods, there is a danger of people getting swept into the manholes. The markers need to be clear and very visible in case of overcast days and nights.

There is little planning about what to do in case of landslides; how a landslide prone area has to be marked and what people need to do in case a landslide happens in an urban area.

There is always a danger of large scale chaos and confusion in case of disasters, which is exactly what happens. Then, take the fact that there are no clear lanes for emergency vehicles and response time is further delayed.

Disaster management needs aggressive approaches and better planning from those in charge. People too have to change their fatalistic, leave-it-all-to-God attitude and become as informed as possible and react responsibly in terms of crisis. We cannot let disasters happen and then react to them. We need to be prepared as much as possible, beforehand.

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