Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
It seems that Nature is angry with us. The last two months have been dominated by bad news. First it was floods in many parts of the state and the Northeast which inundated thousands of hectares of land and displaced lakhs of people, with the associated loss of lives and property.
In the Northeast, more that 50 lakh people have been displaced or affected severely by floods. In Mebo area of East Siang district alone, thousands of hectares of agricultural land and plantations are being eroded by the rampaging Siang river. Even now some villages, roads and bridges are under threat of being washed away. Floods occur every year, causing similar damages to the lives of the common citizens of the area. Yet major flood protection measures are not planned and implemented. Many citizens suffer helplessly and just wait for relief.
Due to incessant heavy rains, landslides, mudslides and road blockages occurred in many parts of the region. Many national highways and major roads have been blocked by landslides, leading to many areas remaining cut off. This has led to lack of essential items and medicines, further leading to spiralling prices of essential items. There has been loss of lives and properties due to landslides in Itanagar also. Poor planning and execution of roads have also added to the massive damages to major roads like the Papu Nallah-Yupia-Hoj-Potin road.
To add to the floods, a series of earthquakes struck the region in the last two days. It is known that most of the Northeast, including Arunachal, is in Seismic Zone 5, the highest earthquake zone. With the last major earthquake occurring in 1950 at the India-China-Myanmar trijunction, it is predicted that another major earthquake is due in the region. In case of another major earthquake massive damages may be caused in our major towns due to poor planning and execution of infrastructure. The citizens need to remain prepared and take precautions.
Added to these problems is the recent outbreak of Japanese encephalitis (JE) in the region, caused by mosquito bites. With the initial outbreak in Assam, the dreaded JE has spread into Arunachal, with more patients testing positive. Though the outbreak still has not reached epidemic proportions, the government is working hard to create awareness about preventive measures and precautions. Among the precautions are sleeping inside mosquito nets, wearing full-sleeved clothes from dusk to dawn, doing away with local pigsties, etc.
Adding to all these miseries is the failure of electricity due to frequent breakdowns in the 132 kva transmission line, due to which central and eastern Arunachal are suffering regularly. How can citizens sleep inside mosquito nets in the summer heat without electricity? How can citizens wear full-sleeved clothing without fans? Even JE vaccines require cold storage, and thus, electricity! Therefore, lack of electricity is indirectly contributing to the spread of JE.
However, there is a silver lining in the dark clouds. The monsoon and the rains are there for another few months only. Beyond the monsoon, autumn and winter are beckoning us to a period free from floods, landslides and JE. Better weather and hope are in the offing. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)