By Ruma Dubey
On 24th June’17, Mumbai received the first torrential rains of the season. There was no forewarning given by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) but on 25th June, after all citizens were caught unawares, the IMD also woke up and warned that 25th too could see “extremely heavy” rains.
On 14th July, the IMD issued a warning that heavy to very heavy rainfall could be seen in north Konkan coast, including Mumbai, for five days. Well, no deluge happened.
29th August, yesterday, there was no forewarning from the IMD – it never ever came out in the open and issued not warning of such a torrential rain taking over the city. But after the floods and the troubles which people went through, IMD is issuing regular updates.
On the other hand, in Houston, Texas, USA, which is currently almost under water, causing untold damage and destruction, the weather department there had issued a warning five days in advance – in fact highways in Texas were filled with cars last Thursday into the night as coastal residents made their way north and out of the path of a hurricane that forecasters had said will bring "life-threatening" amounts of rain. Most residents were prepared with bottled water, satellite radio, lanterns, food, bagged ice.
The weather department has issued another warning today that the Hurricane Harvey could make another landfill and this could be more devastating than the earlier one.
The difference could not have been exposed any wider. Our IMD, supposedly equipped with the latest technology now could not predict the deluge which hit Mumbai yesterday. So what kind of development and growth are we talking about?
Economic growth is all that we focus on – GDP, IIP, Inflation. All just statistics if we still do not have the expertise to predict the weather. Yes, the weather is always unpredictable but how come the developed countries have got it right then? We are spending billions in improving the image of our country, getting the ranking up on the “Ease of Doing Business”. But really, what is the point if we have not yet mastered the art of using technology for saving lives and preventing damage and destruction?
Is development only about GDP; a mere statistical number? Doesn’t that need to get translated into quality of life? If we are indeed the fastest growing economy currently in the world, how does one explain this irony of not having the expertise to forewarn people of even heavy rains and floods? The BMC gives dates and timings of high tide at the beginning of the monsoon season - is that warning enough?
At the beginning of the monsoon season, the IMD had predicted a very good rainfall for the country but what do we have today? More than one-fourth of the country has received deficient rainfall this monsoon. Hopefully these rains will now help recoup this deficiency. See, we still continue to have some morsel of faith intact in the IMD!!!