The gruesome 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit the north-eastern part of Japan on Friday was followed by the tsunami which proved to be more catastrophic. With details slowly emerging, the death toll is likely to be over 10,000 in one state alone. This speaks of the enormity of the natural disaster in one of the most developed countries, which has the state of the art building design and construction to withstand earthquakes. Despite the level of sophistication, Friday’s quake was a little heavy because of its effect in unleashing the tsunami, which is blamed for causing more damages and deaths. It has been a trail of death and destruction, especially in the coastal regions. It is a tragedy for which no words offer consolation. Yet, the reality remains that puny humans are no match for the natural forces at play, which release massive amounts of energy in the form of earthquakes. History is replete with examples of civilisations being obliterated by earthquakes and volcanoes. The familiarity with temblors of smaller magnitude is no guarantee that safety from bigger ones can be guaranteed. Despite all that preparedness, the toll has been regrettable.
Japan faces another emerging problem apart from the quake and tsunami, and that is the feared meltdown of the nuclear reactor which could raise radiation levels in the environment. This is another alarming threat for Japan that depends to quite some extent on nuclear power plants for electricity. The dangers of nuclear power plants are evident during such tragic events. It only proves that nature cannot be faced on its turf and its terms. We should live in harmony with nature, but the pent up forces are unleashed frequently in the form of earthquakes, cyclones, volcanoes and the like that result in massive damages and high death tolls. Yet, the resilience of the Japanese people has been remarkable and all hearts go out to them in these times of loss and bereavement
Piecing together the impacts of the 8.9 Richter earthquake in Japan, Nepal has very good reasons to start thinking urgently at enhancing its preparedness for such an eventuality. The most devastating earthquake that struck Nepal and Bihar in India was of 8.4 magnitude, leaving an estimated 20,000 fatalities. But, if one of such magnitude struck the country now, the fatalities would be enormous. If a 1934 magnitude earthquake strikes Nepal, which has been termed as one of the most quake-prone regions, experts have said that at least 100,000 would perish in the Kathmandu valley itself, all because of the density of the buildings and the total disregard for the building code. Moreover, the emergency services are inadequate to cope with such a situation. It is sheer challenge facing us in the face to get our basics upgraded. We can see that the governments, previous and present, have never given any serious thoughts to setting in place the measures and action plan in case a high magnitude earthquake strikes. Preparedness, infrastructure development and emergency services, among others, have to put in place to be of some help. It has to begin now.
Days ahead of the Holi festival, especially young boys are found carrying out anti-social acts. They hurl balloons filled with dirty water at women and girl pedestrians, in particular. This is carrying things a bit too far. Because of this, women and girls dread walking on the streets and other public places for they would be drenched to the skin. Those responsible for perpetuating such acts should not be allowed to go away scot-free. Every year, during these pre-Holi days the hooligans are found hurling the balloons which can be very painful for the victims and cause serious injuries. The authorities talk about taking stern action against the miscreants every
year. They make a couple of arrests and that is about it. The mischievous urchins have a field day as they harass the women and girls by lobbing the water filled balloons at them.
However, the police have now made several arrests against those making the attacks and have even seized a large quantity of balloons meant for sale ahead of Holi. The police should be earnest about preventing the sadistic revelers from having their way and ensure that Holi is observed in a civil manner and respect for others.