Time to act

Inadequate resources, meagre data, and outdated equipment have favoured the country’s weather forecast system with a major handicap. This is unfortunate in a country with topographic variations and erratic climatic pattern. The Radio Sound Instrument and the Radar that are crucial in detecting the movement of clouds and winds are still a far cry in Nepal. The result is weather forecast unpredictability in a country where 80 per cent of the population still depend on agriculture. Logically then, such a poor agro-climate forecasting system cannot save the valuable agro-products and water retaining structures like dams from floods or landslides that Nepal so often witnesses, especially in the hilly regions.

It is estimated that between 1970 and 2000, the State spent around 60 billion rupees in agriculture and 75 billion in irrigation alone. But, whereas the population growth has leaped by almost 100 per cent within this period, production has increased by only 50 per cent. It is clear that the country has not got enough in return compared to the investment it has pumped into this sector. There is no reason why the government should hesitate to invest in weather forecasting when it is spending such a huge amount in agriculture and irrigation. This is why, experts argue, it is important to immediately equip the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology appropriately so that it is in a position to study the effect of climate change and then churn out a reliable weather data. Strengthening it will work as a safeguard mechanism, as the meteorologists can generate 100 per cent weather predictions and can then engage in research, development and coordination activities.

It is high time the authorities concerned understood the gravity of the matter. It is time for them to take measures to protect the lives and properties worth million of rupees that Nepal loses every year. In any case, there is no dependable disaster management system in place in the country yet. History is evidence that in every 100 years, Nepal has experienced a devastating earthquake. Nepal also falls in the fifth zone category of nations most prone to earthquakes. Cities like Bhaktapur and Patan are most vulnerable as they are densely populated and houses are clustered without any seismic analysis. It is, therefore, best to act now before it is too late.