By Arun Kumar Shrivastav
Newly elected Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been at the center of public anger and has been made a lot of jokes on Twitter. Apparently he is not in the country when Sydney witnesses severe flash flooding and flooding. The situation across North South Wales (NSW) is alarming with more than 50,000 people being asked to evacuate. Incessant downpours and high winds have left homes without electricity and highways under water.
“If I’m Prime Minister I won’t go missing when the going gets tough — or pose for the pictures and then disappear when there’s a job to do,” Australians have dug up one of his statements he made during the election campaign, asking if he can make the same statement again.
A Twitter user elaborated on the complaint using the hashtag #NotMyPM: “Albo splashes $100 million in another country as Australians struggle to buy food, homeless people, NSW floods. Previous flood victims are still struggling. ”
BBC’s Sydney correspondent Shaimaa Khalil says: “I spent the day in south #Windsor – where residents have been told to evacuate – some were packing, I’m leaving, others are stuck, some watching and waiting… everyone is exhausted…”
In India, the famous Amarnath Yatra was shut down on Tuesday due to heavy rainfall in Pahalgam and along the Yatra trail. Overnight showers in many parts of the Kashmir Valley have blocked the Srinagar-Sonamarg-Gumri road from a landslide.
Meanwhile, in the Manipur landslide drama, the death toll has risen to 48. The culmination of this landslide is that the debris has blocked the Ijei River, raising water on one side and creating a dam-like reservoir of water. In the season of rain and flooding as it is now, the dam-like structure could wreak further havoc once the blockage is breached.
Plus, the death toll is unnerving. Among the dead are at least 27 personnel from the Territorial Army that provided security for a railway line being built from Jiribum to Imphal. The exact site of the landslide is in the Tupul area of the Noney district of Manipur. It is believed that 79 people were trapped in the rubble, 43 of them personnel from the Territorial Army and at least 3 from the Railways.
Floods in Assam, with the death toll rising to 180, have already been widely reported. More than 2 million people are directly affected by the floods in Assam and people face an extreme shortage of daily necessities, clean drinking water and medicines.
What makes Assam news at this hour, however, is a new twist in the story. According to media reports, Assam police have arrested two individuals – Mithu Hussain Laskar and Kabul Khan – for allegedly breaking the Barak River embankment that caused massive flooding in Silchar. On social media, people are now trying to take a jihadist stance on the devastating floods in Assam!
Dealing with a natural disaster is not easy. Removing the debris from a landslide like the one at Tupul could take several days in the current rainy condition, even with the best logistical support. Floods of the magnitude that Assam has seen are far greater challenges. Even for the NDRF or the armed forces, these situations are difficult to control.
However, the official machinery often blamed for corruption and incompetence remains at zero and keeps people’s confidence from giving up completely. In such situations, there are many moments of nervousness. In flood-prone areas where the water exceeds the hazard markings, a common story is that some remote villagers breach the levee on the other side to save their village from flooding.
For the city dwellers, however, a flood is a different experience! But let’s keep that for another day.
Right now, the flood situation in Bangladesh is as bad as it gets. At least 64 districts have been badly hit by the floods, more than 100 people have died, and so far millions have been stranded in a month of flooding.
In times like these, when people are surrounded by water or dirty water and all forms of communication are cut off, survival is a major challenge. Disaster management teams with outside support can do better but need to be coordinated quickly with local government and officials.
That’s where the leadership demanded by the Australian people comes into the picture. The Australian Prime Minister has made three overseas trips since taking power six weeks ago. The first overseas trip to Tokyo for the Quad Security Meeting came within hours of being sworn in.
While most Indian leaders are great event managers, not all of them are good at disaster management. Amarnath Yatra, flooding in Assam and landslides in Manipur are some of the major events that are keeping India’s disaster management experts on the brink. Let’s see how India does! (IPA service)
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