KATHMANDU, JULY 11
It has been nearly 16 months since the coronavirus continues to loom over our heads. For a change, the virus has affected the entire universe equally. So we need not feel sorry for ourselves.
The virus is playing hide and seek. With the resurgence of the deadly disease in some metropolises in Australia and fear of disturbances during the Olympic Games in Japan, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal would do well not to display over-enthusiasm in easing the restrictions fast.
It is no longer a question of the economy or prosperity. If we are dead and gone, economic prosperity would mean very little. True, we cannot lock the country for a long time. People need to go out and earn a living.
But, at the same time, they cannot throw caution to the wind and start ignoring the pandemic.
So, we need to take as many jabs, or at least two, to stay alive.
When we get the jabs is not in our hands.It is, thus, up to the US, UK, Japan, Canada, China or Russia to throw the vaccines our way. Meanwhile, natural disasters are rearing their ugly heads with fits and starts in the world. We recently had our share of the devastating tragedy at Melamchi. With monsoon rains in full swing, we could expect many more water-related disasters. The only way to fight off these disasters is through a pragmatic approach. We should start avoiding lowlands that floods can inundate or the edges of rivers or hilly slopes that are vulnerable to floods and landslides. As such, we need to apply our judgement while choosing where we stay.
Sometimes that may not be enough. We have seen on TV the fury of nature in highly developed Japan recently. Nature seems to tell us: "You build back better, or I will strike with a bigger force."
What is the solution? Maybe not to fool around with nature, and keep our development aspirations to a minimum. What happens if an earthquake strikes now? Thank God, the aftershock, or whatever,on the morning of July 5, with its epicentre in downtown Kathmandu – Kuleswore – was of low intensity. Nature seems to be warning Kathmandu of the impending quake shortly.
How prepared are the people and the government if it strikes next week? With the collapse of a part of a 12-storey building in Florida, it is time for us to be careful, too, with our residential towers.
The US has been fumbling with the rescue work and has not been able to pinpoint the cause.
The government should immediately order assessment and stress tests of all tall buildings in the valley. Professional politicians can spend all their lives fighting for control of the government.
But the government cannot ignore the problems of the country that will have serious consequences.
A version of this article appears in the print on July 12 2021, of The Himalayan Times.