Bengaluru: In the month of May, the Pinarayi Vijayan government had to contend with the landslide win of the Congress (UDF).

Now in August, it has had to face up to landslide losses. Okay, losses due to landslides and floods.

Make no mistake about it, both the outcomes were because the Left front government in Kerala did not see the writing on the wall.

But forget about electoral losses, every political combination faces it. But these floods and massive destruction of life and property for the second consecutive year clearly points to administrative lapses and also how we as a society, with our unsustainable lifestyle, have made our cities and towns practically death traps in the face of even slight excesses from the nature.

Though last year the Southern districts of Kerala faced the brunt of nature's fury, this time around it is the northern parts of the state which are at the receiving end of the monsoon onslaught.

Last time around, the Kerala government initially tried to hide behind the sophistry that the quantum of rains received was unprecedented. It was a once-in-a-century phenomenon, the Pinarayi government had claimed.

And later it emerged that the Left Front Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala had botched the situation.

In a stinging indictment of the CPI(M)-led government in the state, a court-appointed amicus curiae laid bare that the government's bungling was at the core of the flood devastation.
According to the report, the flooding was caused by the delay in the opening of the shutters of some of the major dams in the state. That triggered a huge deluge. The report, submitted to the Kerala high court, categorically said that the flood was more man-made, and less nature-made.

The amicus curiae, Jacob P Alex, in fact, laid the blame straight at the doors of the state government. The report said that the state government was guilty of not following proper flood control mechanism and norms of 'flood cushion' at dams were not maintained effectively.

This year's cataclysmic turn of events could be put down to both climate emergency and unsustainable development.

But climate emergency, in a sense, can be argued to be an outshoot of human greed and unsustainable living.

Sources in Kerala says that successive governments in the state have been sitting over Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report. Ignoring the warnings in the WGEEP report, governments had allowed ill-thought out and illegal constructions in ecologically sensitive areas. Rampant quarrying and deforestation have played havoc over the Kerala landscape.

Puthumala in Wayanad district and Kavalapara in Malappuram district, the two areas that have faced a flurry of landslides, are representative of the sensitive and fragile ecosystem that the Western Ghats is famous for.

Their geography and ecosystem have been insensitively tampered with, and hence are now paying a heavy price now. The Gadgil Committee report had once classified as ecologically-sensitive zones (ESZs) most of the regions that have been devastated by the monsoon mayhem. (Madhav Gadgil had prepared an extensive report as the chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel.)

Last time around, the toll in the floods was pegged around 433, and the loss of goods and infrastructure was estimated to be around Rs. 27, 000 crore.  This time, the deaths have been around 75, and the financial losses are still being estimated. In August last, the landslides were 341, and it is 80 in the first two days of the current spell of rain.   

The state that once looked forward to monsoons is now dreading it. Experts caution that such shows of fury from nature could be the new normal. They concur that both the disasters were waiting to happen as the authorities were looking elsewhere when the plundering was happening.

If this doesn't ring the alarm bells, we don't know what will.