Govts must share blame for flood havoc
WASHINGTON: Millions of people across South Asia have been hit by the worst floods in 15 years, to a great extent due to “decades of indifference by the governments of the region and the lack of any significant international effort to plan adequate relief measures, let alone address the underlying causes of the flooding,” a socialist group has charged.
According to the International Committee of the 4th International, as many as 40 million are homeless and at least 1,300 people have perished. The final death toll could be much higher, with rescue and relief measures still not reaching some areas. Water-borne diseases are also expected to cause many more fatalities. Causes of death include drowning, diarrhoea and other diseases, electrocution, landslides, lightning, collapsing homes and snakebites.
The worst-affected areas are Bihar, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Tripura in India; Rangpur, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Sylhet and Bogra in Bangladesh; Nepal’s capital city Katmandu; and the northwest Mardan District in Pakistan. In many places, the region’s swollen main rivers, the Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna, have overflowed and washed away villages, sometimes breaking embankments. The hardest hit have been the urban and rural poor who are often forced to live on flood-prone land. Much of the capital city of Dhaka is under water. Bangladesh’s biggest port Chittagong is also flooded.
The Committee, a Trotskyite group active in Europe and North America, said, “Throughout the affected areas across the subcontinent, people have been forced to take shelter in schools, on river embankments, in trees, and on rooftops, sometimes without tents, getting soaked. Millions lack food, drinking water and medicine, because of the failure of governments to provide basic supplies.” This desperate situation is the result of continuing indifference by regional governments and absence of proper support by the international community. khalid hasan