Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Floods: Concerted effort sadly lacking

Floods: Concerted effort sadly lacking

THE earth has seven oceans that cover almost three-fourths of its surface. Wind and other events cause the oceans' water to sometimes overflow. When this happens, flooding on the shores occurs. When the ocean's storms force water on a coast to raise the sea level in that area, which are known as storm surges, this causes flooding along the coast.
In cold regions, flooding takes place when the snow begins to thaw. And when the snow melts and flows down the mountain sides and into the river, it may not be able to contain such a huge volume of water, and thereby, overflows causing floods.

But we do not have this type of problem here in Malaysia.

Since the 1960s, Malaysia has been facing the perennial problem of floods, and so far this year, the floods have hit the northern states of Perlis and Kedah, and are also threatening Kelantan.

The current floods, caused by heavy rainfall overnight, have forced more than 1,000 people to leave their homes in Perlis and Kedah. In Kelantan, people in several low-lying areas have been advised to be prepared to evacuate if the situation worsens.

We have lofty ambitions of being a developed and high-income economy, which is well and good. We are focusing on attracting high-technology investments and developing the services sector to be globally competitive, yet we are unable to find solutions to these recurring woe.

Where are our planners, engineers, administrators and environmentalists in putting forward solutions to combat this yearly anguish? If it is a natural disaster beyond the control of mankind, then it is comprehensible. But it is not a despair we cannot find a solution to.

I am not an environmentalist, but could the problem of flooding be due to the indiscriminate felling of our trees and other forms of greenery, thereby, denying us water-absorbing mechanisms? If this is the case, then immediate measures must be taken to protect our environment.

How is our drainage and irrigation system? We spend millions every year on infrastructure projects, but why is it that emphasis is hardly given to mitigate this perennial problem?

Where is the concerted effort of politicians and non-governmental organisations in tackling the problem of floods?


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