Sun, 22 Sep, 2019

All of a Sudden

By Navaraj Kharel

All of a sudden, the things that are in your room start moving. The main fear that has semblance on your brain at that moment is ‘Death’. You try to hide somewhere; but no, the intensity of fear goes on increasing and at maximum, you just gallop. Leaving your every important document, play-station, laptop, iPhone 6, you rush, trying to find a safer zone or an open area for yourself and when you think you are in a safer place, finally a small voice comes from within you “EARTHQUAKE”. Silently, you start praying; in my case, it goes something like “Lord, please I don’t want to die young. I promise you, I will not tease girls anymore.” Nepal is known as an earthquake prone region. Kathmandu city, the victim of unplanned land use policy and rapid urbanization, lies in a great danger. It is said that the entire country falls in a high earthquake intensity belt; almost the whole of Nepal falls in a high intensity scale. But when we think about the effect, Kathmandu will face the greatest as it is considered as the most dangerous place in the world in terms of earthquake risk. It is not the earthquake that kills people; it is just a sudden release of energy in the earth’s crust which creates seismic waves. It is the man-made things which fall down and crash which kills people. Experts have estimated that nearly 100,000 people would lose their lives in Kathmandu if the quake with equal magnitude of 1990 BS was repeated and nearly 60 percent of the buildings would collapse. Advancement in modern physics, science and engineering has given us so many inventions and made our lives so much more comfortable, but it is a sad to know that science is still unable to create enough of such devices or apps which would help us strongly predict the onset of an earthquake well before its time. If enough of such devices were made handy to us, we could move into safer places. However, by doing some calculations, we can only assume the risk and assumption is merely true. Kathmandu tops the list in terms of death ratio by earthquake and the so called government officials and land policy makers are responsible for this dismay. The uneven land management system, pathetic infrastructural facility, lack of open areas, lack of proper urban planning leads to this condition. The government is only focused on holding elections, criticizing one another, but sadly, not on initiating the possible measures that can help to reduce the loss of human lives and property resulting from earthquake. There is lack of mechanisms to ensure that constructions comply with building codes for safety from earthquake.. According to an article in the site Oh My News International, the open area in the valley has fallen from 63 percent to 41 percent within the last 20 years. We will barely be able to find an open area in the valley within another 20 to 50 years if this trend continues. The number of people entering Kathmandu is increasing day by day; we cannot stop them. But if the government could allocate half of the government services and facilities outside the Kathmandu valley, it would minimize the risks. The media has played a great role to increase awareness among people about the safety measures of earthquakes, but where will we be safe if there’s no open areas during such times? There is no doubt that the valley will burgeon in size in the coming future. Hence, the government and related authorities should enforce an efficient land use plan to address the issues of rampant urbanization and population growth to avoid possible negative impacts. We all are living in a city where we are not even sure when we are going to have the most terrifying day of our lives. If the same trend of carelessness of the government continues and if the incident of 1990 repeats, it will take us more than a decade to rebuild and renovate our nation. Not to mention the potential loss of life. The words of Charles Kuralt speak justly, “It takes an earthquake to remind us that we walk on the crust of an unfinished earth.” Further, the quote by George Carlin, “The safest place to be during an earthquake would be in a stationary store.” sarcastically presents our situation.