Monday, June 05, 2006
Monsoon and the Met office....
Since the monsoon of 2005, folks in Mumbai have a thing about the rains .
After a lifetime of braving rains, and attending schools/offices/appointments- come what may; for the first time, the newspapers reported that people stayed home, or left offices early, after the first hint of the monsoon on May 29. Some folks still have a post traumatic stress disorder due to last years experience of getting stuck in rains, that flooded everything till your eyeballs. Houses that got flooded like 7 feet, for the first time in 60 years.
On May 29, with tons of maps decorated with isobars , heavy thundershowers were predicted for the following 48 hours. This kind of prediction is now PREDICTABLE from the Met Office.
To set the record straight on what actually took place, , the "next 48 hours" were a set on nice cloudy days, with rain drizzling mostly at night, making the days more bearable.
The way the met office functions, reminds me of my General Science examinations in school, where we used to have a section called "Give reasons". You had to give scientific reasons for certain facts , as asked.
Everytime some unusual weather occurs , it is almost always NOT what the met office predicted. So what happens? Its GIVE-REASONS-time.
Its as if they exist to amswer questions after everything has happened. They start saying that the "western/eastern/etc " disturbance, which was expected to reach Mumbai on such and such a date , didnt; or, the DELUGE of 26th july 2005, happened because there was a CLOUD CEILING of 15 meteres above the city, which simply emptied itself or whatever.
They take great pride in reporting that such and such a place had so many inches/cms/mms of rain. If only they predicted it instead of reporting.
I pay my taxes so some smart met office type is able to guage the size of the cloud cover, nature of the cloud cover , and give a probability of what will happen , when. Notwithstanding the fact, that the "western/eastern disturbance" , like me, can have a mind of its own, one expects the met office staff to be trained to use suitable technologies to predict the road the disturbance will take.
They are supposed to predict and warn people of these things BEFORE it happens. I dont pay my taxes, so the government can organsie offices, which display scientific instruments to pretend they are using them. I pay my taxes so the government can TRAIN staff to predict the weather based on observations from these instruments. If these are obselete, I pay taxes so the government can invest in better instruments.
The only thing that seems to happen with amazing regularity is the "raising of danger flags , " in various ports, to tell the fishermen , not to go to sea that day.
Do we need the met office at all ? What funds are wasted on this every year ? Every year , sometime in May, there is a news item about monsoon prediction; how someone is looking at more variables in their computer program this year, how El Nino, or El Nina , is doing stuff it should or shouldnt be doing this year. (So whats new. A lot of folks are doing something they shouldnt be doing, anyway.) Reams of newspaper wasted on this.
And any farmer or fisherman who has spent a lifetime observing nature and its implicit signs, can tell you when a rain or storm is imminent. Maybe not in inches, centimeters , etc, but relevant enough to those to whom it matters , like farners and fishermen. He doesnt even know how many extra parmeters he is using this year for his prediction; there has not been an upgrade in his biological machine for years; if it has, then he hs earned it from years of experience, and NOT from George W Bush allowing the import of the CRAY machine, or CDACT presenting the PARAM.
And all this time, helpless mango growers in Kokan can only watch as an unseasonal rain destroys the mango blossoms that year. Onion farmers in Nasik are reduced to tears that have nothing to do with onions, but everything to do with the now rotting onion crop due to rains that messed up acres and acres of crop. And lets not talk about tomatoes.
We are so good at holding seminars. Solid waste managenment seminars in a city, for which, everyone enjoys a free attache case, information material (the backs of which are used by your children to do their practice sums) , daily lunches (with a choice of dessert) , one banquet at a 5 star, cultural program on one evening, folks going about importantly in suits with id-tags around their necks, gracefully hiding their names in their shirt pockets (along with their mobile phones..).
Reminds me. Recently one heard of a solid waste management seminar organised in Goa . Wow. What is NOT so wow, is the fact that my friend who stays in Betim, across the river from Panjim , the capital city, has to dump her waste into the river as Betim has NO waste management ........ .
No comment at all.
All the while, the real waste is not managed at all.
Its not the Mithi river. Dredging it to widen it is like increasing the insulin for an uncontrollable diabetic. You actually need to make lifestyle changes at root. And so what the government needs to do is to find the local goons who encourage settlement along the Mithi for a price. Or find those in the hallowed precincts of the Municipal Coropration, that develope instant cataracts while dealing with payments to cheating contractors , who specialise in pouring mud where concrete is required.
Buildings in Mumbai are suddenly being declared dangerous these days. Its supposed to be a crumbling construction, dangerous to the lives of the inhabitants of that building, something that was built, when the powers that be were sticklers for rules. But subsequent senseless, unscientific additions/changes/deletions to the constructions have weakened the edifice, leading to a fear of an impending catastrophe. All of it done , because someone in authority specialsed in looking-the-other-way .
When will we learn, that todays corrupt authorities are what the buildings are a symbol of. The rot has penetrated right in. It didnt start that way.
And its just a matter of time before it falls.