The death toll from the floods is on the rise. To this is added the dozens of people who have gone missing and whose fate is therefore unknown. Houses swept away or submerged are in the thousands. The hills are particularly affected by landslides and the Tarai region from flooding. The government has announced an immediate relief of two lakh rupees for each family who have lost someone in the landslides or floods. This is a positive gesture but the affected families should be paid without delay. The widespread havoc created by the floods in most of the Tarai will leave behind its scars long after the rains stop and flood waters subside. But the immediate need is to orchestrate a massive relief and rescue operation as is done during any natural calamity. Rescue and relief efforts are already underway. But inadequacies have been pointed out from various quarters, and these should be considered and removed to make the operation efficient and effective enough to control damage and to salvage what can be salvaged in time. Indeed, security forces are seen to be doing commendable work in these efforts.
When the question of relief comes, all kinds of organizations and groups of people have started collecting donations in the name of flood relief. But these should be brought under government supervision and control, otherwise there are bound to be gross abuses of the money thus collected, as often happened in the past. All organizations–governmental and non-governmental—and individuals should come forward to provide relief to the flood-hit families in whatever way they can. If organizations like I/NGOs want to contribute to this massive effort, they should be allowed to do so but under the government’s umbrella, not in any way they might like. A free rein is likely to lead to various types of abuses which would not comply with the government’s policies in various ways. Further, as often seen in the past, duplication of work should be avoided to make the relief efforts prompt and cost-effective so that the targeted people and groups can take full benefit.
The spread and intensity of the floods call for emergency-like measures from the government. Action and results count, not words and assurances. No agency can provide the relief and rescue services as the government can. So it is mainly the government’s responsibility to plan and implement all rescue and relief efforts. Indeed, others can lend a helping hand, and it is also the government’s responsibility to coordinate and control their contributions and exercise reasonable control over them. In this hour of national grief, the voters are also watching how the government, political parties and other agencies come to the aid of the affected people. Those who have lost their houses and property and belongings need also to be rehabilitated. The damaged public structures like roads, bridges, and transmission lines need to be repaired or reconstructed. There seems to be public wrath over what they have seen as the government’s failure to have more gates of the Koshi Barrage opened despite the inundation of most of the Tarai. In future, further actions need to be taken to minimize the havoc that may be created by the monsoon rains.
Although it has been made mandatory for taxis to install a computer billing system many taxis have not complied. They were supposed to have them installed by July 22. The computer billing system was brought in order to prevent the cabbies from cheating their customers. Even now most of the taxis do not charge as per the reading in their meter. Taxi drivers are required to issue receipts to their passengers for every trip. The receipts provide useful information like the distance travelled, the taxi fare and the registration number of the cab.
The billing system is being installed at the office of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division at Ramshapath. The cabs are charged Rs. 9000 to have them installed. Meanwhile, the passengers should insist that the taxis operate under the billing system. Those not complying by the rules should face the music. On Sunday the traffic police detained 115 taxis refusing to use the meters. Around 7,000 of the cabs operating in the capital have these gadgets installed. Around 9,500 taxi ply on the roads of the capital city. Tough action should be taken against the erring taxis which are fleecing many innocent passengers for they can do little about this situation.
The Himalayan Times, August 15, 2017