The Himalayan Times: Almost every year disasters take place due to floods and landslides during the monsoon killing hundreds, displacing thousands and destroying properties worth millions of rupees in Nepal. However, we find that the response of the government in providing relief to the affected is often too little and very late. The government clearly stands to blame for the large scale of disasters with heavy casualties this year. The government’s failure in utilizing the funds made available for the rescue and relief operations this time around can be seen from the financial statistics made available by the Home Ministry. Funds are pouring in the central fund but they are not reaching the floods and landslide victims. Although the Prime Minister-led Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee has received over Rs. 263 million from various individuals and organizations since August 2 the Home Ministry has released only Rs. 89.7 million for the disaster affected areas in 30 districts. This is largely due to the lack of prevention and ineffective rescue operations. It is also because of the absence of local bodies representatives, because of which aid is not reaching the needy and the district authorities have not been able to make funds available at the local level.
We find serious lapses in the distribution of relief materials. The authorities have not yet been able to give the accurate number of the affected people as a result of which the United Nations’ World Food programme has not been able provide the requisite amount of food needed. The government will be hard put in explaining the large scale of the disaster caused by this year’s floods and landslides. This is also because laws, policies and regulations are not applied when it comes to providing emergency shelter and also in response to disasters.
Meanwhile, the State Affairs Committee of the Parliament has instructed the government for the formation an all-party mechanism within a week to coordinate relief and rehabilitation and also designate a minster to speed up the process. This calls for making sufficient arrangements for food shelter, clothing and health services without any more dilly-dallying. To avert more disasters those at risks from floods and disasters ought to be moved to safer places. These should be done immediately as a short term measure. Looking in the future, we should have more trained manpower to carry out rescue and relief. At present the Nepali Army, APF and the police need to be trained in rescue and relief efforts in disaster management. So far, they have not been imparted such for the most part as a result of which disasters assume to dangerous proportions. The need of the hour now is to make amendments in the present disaster management laws. We have to be always prepared to mitigate the damages caused by natural disasters as the country is highly vulnerable to such calamities. Merely blaming others for the disasters is not enough. We all should come to the assistance of the displaced persons at a war-footing from our respective sides.
Festival of freedom
Hindu women are celebrating the teej festival all over the country today praying to Lord Shiva for peace, well being, healthy life and prosperity for themselves and their spouses. Unmarried girls also observe fasting throughout the day – some even without drinking water – for a suitable better-half as Parvati who, according to Hindu mythology, went on a fast praying that she would get Lord Shiva as her husband. Hundreds of thousands of women – married or unmarried – visit the temples of Lord Shiva, particularly Pashupatinath, on this day.
The teej festival is not only important from the religious point of view, but it is equally important from the viewpoint of culture and freedom the Hindu Nepali women enjoy during this time that falls on the third day of the new moon on the month of Shrawan. The women, especially those from the rural parts, get a break for a few days from the clutches of hard works at home, and they are free to visit their loving parents and brothers. This is the time when married women enjoy freedom of expression through teej songs. Their “sweetest songs are those that tell of the saddest thought”. Sorrows and happiness are what they express in beautiful attires and jewelries.
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