EDITORIAL: Monsoon menace

The government should give high priority to measures aimed at minimizing the loss of life and property caused by the monsoon rains every year

Now we are in the midst of monsoon and it is forecast that the rainfall will be average this year.

This is indeed good news as Nepali farmers mostly depend on the monsoon to plant paddy due to the lack of adequate irrigation facilities. The country witnesses about 60 to 80 per cent precipitation during the monsoon.

The matter of concern is that the monsoon usually causes havoc due to floods and landslides every year and the authorities are not able to mitigate the sufferings of those affected by the rains.

Not only do many people lose their lives every year but considerably damage is caused to the already inadequate infrastructure, such as roads, hydropower plants, irrigation and drinking water facilities, not to mention agricultural land and houses.

This year more landslides have occurred and more are expected due to the instability of the soil after the devastating earthquakes of last year in the hilly areas. A higher number of landslides totaling about 3000 have occurred now than the past five years combined.

This year the monsoon has arrived one week later, on June 16. But we are still not prepared to deal with the destruction that is likely to be caused, as in the past years.

Many people in the affected areas spend sleepless nights during the rainy season fearing that they would be buried under debris or swept away by the floods. Knowing in advance that such destruction of life and property is inevitable, what we lack are proper strategies, effective planning and mitigation measures.

In order to avert disasters many countries have in place a system to warn the people about the impending disasters so that people would in advance take the necessary measures to reduce human casualties and damage to property.

Successive governments had said they would take the required measures to develop such a mechanism but so far they have been unable to do so. Considering the substantial loss of life and property caused by the monsoon rains every year, the government should give due priority to mitigation measures.

Nepal happens to be one of the countries most vulnerable to the natural disasters including earthquakes, flooding and landslides. In the meantime, many of those who fell victim to the earthquakes still lack proper shelter.

In addition, due to the landslides many remote regions are difficult to access as falling debris have made it difficult to access them by road. Much of the blame for this plight is the irresponsible abuse of the environment by building roads which are not environment friendly as they cause much destruction of the greenery.

Also strong and durable embankments should be built so that the waters from the rivers do not damage the human settlements and fields. Many of the embankments built have been found to be faulty; therefore there is a need to build stronger and durable ones.

It is high time the concerned authorities rose up to the challenge, as, unfortunately, as usual, the government has not been able to do so though they are well aware of the necessity of it and they also possess the necessary resources for the purpose to make a difference.

Welcome step

It is a welcome decision by a meeting of government secretaries presided over by Chief Secretary Somlal Subedi to sign a performance contract with civil servants before they are deputed to any government office or agency.

The employees thus deputed will not be transferred to any other work station till the completion of the fiscal year.

The departmental bosses will in turn execute performance contracts with the employees under them. This measure is aimed at improving the implementation of the government’s policy and programme and the National Budget.

Several indicators have been identified with varying weightage marks to evaluate the performance, which should be strictly applied to make the employees work or face the consequences, such as withholding of promotion and annual grades, and non-consideration when it comes to providing them with various incentives and rewards, including desired postings.

This measure becomes especially important against the practice of awarding full marks to employees during performance appraisals despite their poor work and the failure of projects and programmes.

But given government’s track record of often failing to carry out its own performance-improving measures properly, what will happen to the latest measure remains to be seen.