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Breaking news or breaking credibility?
When a months’ rainfall hits the city in a matter of few hours, no civil infrastructure can handle it effectively.

It has A become common practice for news channels to spew absurd comments and untenable opinions. This spouting reaches a crescendo at the break of important events. Add to this, the minimal effort to correct the misinformation.  Here are a couple of recent instances:

When Mumbai suffered torrential rains on 29 August, these news channels positioned their correspondents across the Mumbai metro and broadcasted visuals of the extensive flooding. Anchors, including the likes of Arnab Goswami,  rebuked in high decibels the utter failure of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation and ‘demanded accountability’ for the crores of monies spent. They breezily charged the corporators as corrupt.

The sufferings caused by the rainfall were indeed real with several lakhs, including school-going children, unable to return home and forced to spend the night in schools, offices and railway platforms; a thousand others had to wade through knee-deep water for miles to trek back home. However, what the news channels failed to discus was the enormity of the downpour.

When the rains subsided and normalcy returned to Mumbai  after a few hours the vociferous anchors sadly did not bother to run programme to offer solutions to tackle such natural calamities in future and  moved on to other ‘breaking news.’ I wish they have the social concern to engage experts to assimilate the lessons from failures and assist the administration with a blueprint for handling such crises.

 

Contrast the handling of Harvey and Irma

Handling  the severe Hurricane Harvey that struck Houston in the United States on the same day as the Mumbai rains,  has good lessons to emuate: mobilising rescue personnel and resources in advance and minimising damage. The meteorological department has tools to predict accurately the severity of such natural calamities. With satellite mapping and global expertise in weather forecasting, it should be possible to get data in advance and disseminate information to act in time. Even a simple ordering of closure of schools and offices in advance would help a long way.

Within a week of suffering the havoc caused by Hurricane Harvey, tornadoes hit Florida and the adjoining areas in Atlanta. Close to 6 million houses went without power and several thousands had to vacate their houses and live in shelters. 

CNN International covered the news continuously. One could not help but admire their risk and professiona-lism  in providing extensive information and visuals ahead and through the hurricane’s landing.

Our civic administration has a lot to learn on advance preparations and work towards co-ordinated team efforts of the government and municipal agencies. These  could  ensure maximum safety and minimum damage. – SV   

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