Pre-monsoon rain a ‘wake-up’ call

May 17, 2016- The onset of rainy season in the country has already highlighted country’s poor state of disaster-preparedness during the monsoon months.

Flash floods and landslides, triggered by pre-monsoon rains, left at least nine people dead and four missing in the western hills, including Bajhang, Dailekh, Rolpa, Surkhet and Phuthan in the past week.

The development of low pressure system along the Bay of Bengal and local disturbance favouring rainfall activity across the country is bringing in brief to moderate rains in many places across the country, particularly in west Nepal.

The monsoon, which lasts about four months, accounts for around 80 percent of the annual precipitation in the country and is vital for agriculture. It normally enters the country in the second week of June and retreats by the third week of September. The weathermen forecast the rainfall during the four-month long monsoon is expected to be normal this year, raising hopes of a better summer crop production, particularly paddy, following a long dry spell for two straight years.

“While the rains during monsoon are vital for agriculture, they often trigger disasters wreaking havoc, particularly in lack of preparedness and risk mitigation,” said Rishi Ram Sharma, director general at the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) on Monday.

Experts have already cautioned about the risks of landslides, particularly in the districts hit by earthquake last year—Gorkha, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Sindupalchok and Rasuwa. The devastating earthquake last year triggered more than 4,000 landslides of different nature, mainly originating at a high crest or a peak, concentrating along the main shock area stretching from Barpak in Gorkha to Singati in Dolakha.

Last month, the Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee (NDRC), under the Home Ministry, directed concerned bodies at all levels to come up with measures to mitigate the risks on lives and properties from floods and landslides in the upcoming monsoon. The measures ranged from strengthening and improving the river-monitoring by ensuring effective monitoring and early warning systems in every major rivers. They also include mobilising heavy equipment along the strategic highways to ensure timely rescue operation in case of major disasters to construction of embankments in areas at high risk of floods.

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