Passing the Buck


As the waters that had invaded Bombay slowly retreated, stories began to trickle out of the city. Tragic stories, of death, and loss of property, alongside stories of heroic deeds and selfless acts. The city of Bombay limped back to life, and people began asking questions. As is the norm, there was an enormous backlash against the “inept” authorities. The anger of the people is understandable, but the sad part is that it is misdirected.

The first fact to consider is the amount of rainfall – a mammoth 94+ cm of rainfall. There is no way any organization can be prepared for something like that. In fact, most municipal corporations will not be able to handle half that amount of rainfall. Even if all the gutters had been cleaned and serviced before the rain, we would still have seen the kind of flooding that Bombay witnessed. As a people we are so used to throwing our water bottles, plastic covers, empty chips covers, newspapers, etc., on the streets. This debris would have been washed into the gutters and clogged them anyways. And even if the gutters had not been clogged, the rain came at the same time as the high tide, therefore not allowing the rainwater to drain away.

Blaming the authorities for the damage wrought by the rain, is the same as blaming the authorities for crops damaged by the lack of rainfall.

Then there is the case of people having lost everything in the flood. Water rose to well above dining-table height in houses, this meant that televisions, music systems, cupboards, washing machines, and refrigerators were all damaged. There is no way to prevent such kind of damage, however if people had insured their homes, they would have been able to salvage something out of this tragedy.

Insurance companies have been flooded by claims from vehicle owners. Note that vehicle insurance is the only “compulsory” insurance in the country. It is not compulsory to insure homes and the property inside the homes. For an Indian insurance is only for tax benefit purposes, no more no less.

There are a lot of things that the administration can be blamed for, however, the damage wrought by this flood is not one of them. This time around the blame for the losses lie with the people for not being prudent enough to have insured themselves and their homes.

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