Chitralekha Gujarati issue dated 11th May 2015
Watch “Editor’s Audio Note” on YouTube -
Nepal: When the Earth Shook..!!
As a result of the inexplicable movements of the tectonic plates beneath, Nepal experienced a massive earthquake measuring 7.8 on Richter scale leading to a staggering loss of human lives and widespread destruction of property and heritage monuments and structures. Tremors were felt all along the fault line, shaking India, Bangladesh, Tibet and causing further loss of lives there.
Though warned by experts, the Nepal quake literally and figuratively shook one and all because of the sheer scale and devastation it left in its wake. Against this backdrop, the cover story by Hiren Mehta in the latest issue of Chitralekha asks a very pertinent question: will India learn its lessons from the tragedy that struck our neighbor?
Call it a coincidence or an omen, the day Nepal experienced the ground shifting underneath, Mumbai municipality took a decision to order for purchase of a snorkel costing Rs 15 crore that would enable the fire brigade people to spray water on 50th floor of a high-rise. Now in a city that witnesses an unseemly competition to construct skyscrapers with 60-70 floors, what if there is a fire in floor beyond the 50th floor?
The Nepal quake that happened on the same day reminds us of an ominous but unambiguous warning issued by an expert geologist with regard to construction of high-rises in Mumbai. He had clearly stated that in view of the faultline Mumbai is sitting on, it would be prudent not to have buildings of more than 22 floors.
But the warning has been thrown to the wind and all rules have been flagrantly flouted by the authorities. Surrounded by the sea from its three sides, the Maximum City faces constraints in its horizontal growth. Fine, so let there be vertical elevation into the sky, as the latter is not going to resent or object to intrusion or violation of its space. What if this violation means putting excessive strain on the city’s infrastructure and leads to shoddy construction endangering lives of thousands of people? The question sadly falls on deaf ears.
Around the time when the concerns regarding the city were being voiced, Mother Nature responded in Kathmandu where the earth violently shook and then in the scariest minutes that followed ravaged human lives and properties on the ground. The shock wave that was unleashed because of the shifting of plates underneath may be described as being as powerful as the explosion of more than 20 thermonuclear bombs. The impact was so massive that the whole city of Kathmandu shifted as far as 10 feet and some of the regions got raised by half a meter.
Nepal experienced its last major earthquake of such a magnitude way back in 1934. Now 81 years later, the region again experienced the deadly temblor that left over 6000 people dead and an equal number of injured, not to mention those who are still missing.
A senior journalist based in Nepal fears that the loss may run into much more than what is being projected. The ten districts where high causalities and devastation are feared happen to be in the mountainous region and therefore inaccessible after the earthquake. As a result no rescue team has been able to access this difficult terrain. It would therefore be no surprise if the casualty figure shoots up to anything between 10000 and 15000.
Experts say that the Everest mountain range being in high risk zone, Nepal faces the threat of earthquake every 75-80 years. So it was not that the Nepal quake was not expected. Some experts had warned about the impending quake and advised them to insist on earthquake-resistant buildings, space between two buildings, avoid high-rise and use of concrete etc.
Unfortunately the advice was not heeded and the inevitable happened.
There are a few short pieces accompanying this captivating story. The faultlines beneath the ground and the collision of the plates have been explained very lucidly in one of the boxed pieces. In another, the April jinx for the Everest mountaineers has been taken up. The third piece deals with how the quake turned to rubble some famous historical sites in Nepal, thus consigning history to history.
A must read story that is both interesting and enlightening.
Left Dying…to Give Birth
A woman gets kidnapped from her home in Surat and gang-raped at gunpoint by several persons for a few months. The brave woman manages to escape from the clutches of her captors. But now she is confronted with an equally tormenting predicament.
She is pregnant because of the rape. When she approached the court for permission to abort the child she was denied the permission on the plea that the child too has a fundamental right to live. Her tormentors have been arrested but what about the yet-to-be-born child whom the would-be mother refuses to give birth to and raise, as admitted by her in her conversation with Chitralekha.
A brief piece details the circumstances that led to the kidnapping of the hapless woman. Another one deals with how police gave a cold shoulder to her family. On the other hand, the mother of three accused and wife of one retorts alleging that the kidnapped lady had an affair with one of her sons.
As the matter is getting increasingly entangled, the child is quietly waiting to be born. Mahesh Shah examines the tragic but curious case which will have far-reaching social ramifications.
A Mentor on Road
Jagat Shah is fond of traveling but not without a purpose. A trade consultant, he does often move out with his family, but essentially he is a crusader and aims to make his traveling meaningful. Earlier he had embarked on journey to crusade for the ‘Right to Education’ and Swatchh Bharat’.
This time around the 65-day and 9400 kms trip he intends to undertake around the country will entail his counseling to young entrepreneurs. During his vacation he will teach others the benefits of vocation. He prefers to call his new project ‘Mentor on Road’.
Ketan Trivedi in this report seeks to decode the mentor’s mind and his itinerary.
Apart from the above, the issue carries a report by Ketan Mistry on Jivabhai Devshibhai Muliyasia, a farmer from Saurastra who has sowed the seeds of hard work and dedication in Israel and is now earning a rich harvest of success and goodwill.
There are also Political & Humour columns, Palak, Sonography, Cardiogram, Health Helpline, Jalsaghar and Mukhwas.
Blindfolding a la Gandhari would not make you the Goddess of Justice..!!