Five weeks ago, I was on top of Dharahara (A 200 feet tower in Sundhara, Kathmandu) clicking photos of Kathmandu valley. Now even before I could publish my first blog on the NE Trip, I am forced to write this.
Dharahara is in ruins. The nine storey tower crumbled down (as a matter of fact second time in history, as it fell down in a 1934 earthquake) taking around 200 lives.
Science is simple. Nepal lies in a huge fault-line along the Indo-Australian and Asiatic plates. Earthquakes are inevitable and we are too tiny in front of the forces that created the mighty Himalayas.
I wouldn’t have talked about geology, the travelogue would have discussed how beautiful Eastern countryside of Nepal is and how enchanting the beautiful UNESCO heritage sites are in and around Kathmandu.
I was even planning to be scathing towards how polluted Kathmandu is. It is the most polluted city I had ever visited, worse than a smoggy-winter-day Delhi. The architecture and town planning was in utter chaos. Destruction in many forms was just waiting to happen, if not for the earthquake, city would have crumbled on its own with population dying because of urban nightmares. The nightmares would include waste and filth mis-management which will lead to multiple diseases and dust, soot and other pollutants in air giving all possible lung disorders.
Do you know what was the booming business in downtown Kathmandu?
Ans: Selling anti-pollutions masks!
Urban mis-management aside, everyone in the administration, geologists and planning officials know the fragile location Kathmandu is in and lot of money was poured in the from International aid for better disaster management before it even struck. I don’t know how much of it was put to good use!
Science still can’t predict earthquakes, but scientists are learning with every disaster. In the last decade, we have seen devastating earthquakes in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the Himalayan Tsunami and now this. All along the fault-line. The 2004 Tsunami was also triggered by an earthquake along the same fault-line off Indonesia.
Himalayan Tsunami was preventable and avoidable and even if we can’t prevent future earthquakes, we can definitely weaken the ill-effects of such events by preparing. Guwahati, are you guys prepared? Darjeeling? Siliguri? Srinagar?
We Third world nations can’t replicate Western style urbanisation. It is not even sustainable. This is a rant, I am disturbed at the urban mis-management and lack of policy measures which is an indirect cause of so many lives lost. The lack of government initiative still fuels rapid migration from rural Nepal to Kathmandu in search of greener pastures. Here they found only dust, now after 25th April they will find only ruins and rubble.