On May 4, the citizens of the state were informed that Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who also heads the Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA), presided over a “monsoon preparedness” meeting in Kohima. Just five days later, on May 9, the first Quarterly DDMA (District Disaster Management Authority) tentative agenda meeting for ‘monsoon preparedness’ was held in Dimapur. Adding to the series of meetings, on May 10, Chief Secretary and Chairman SEC J Alam led a video conference meeting on monsoon preparations with the DCs, who are in charge of their respective DDMAs.
While the media are not privy to proceedings of these closed-door meetings, official reports later revealed that the first meeting involved briefings on the monsoon based on meteorological data provided by the NSDMA and other line departments such as PWD (R&B), Power Department, H&FW, HG&CD/SDRF, F&CS, and NHIDCL, who presented their preparedness measures. The second meeting focused on assessing the state’s readiness for the impending monsoon, with various departments delivering presentations on their ‘Monsoon Preparedness.’ Not surprisingly, in the third meeting, the Chief Secretary received updates from the DCs on road infrastructure, food supply levels, key commodities, and access to vital medications in their respective districts.
Accordingly, on the surface, Nagaland, including Dimapur, appeared to be adequately prepared for the monsoon season, boasting three separate readiness meetings in May alone. However, it now seems like a charade. As the first heavy rainfall hit the region, washing away their paper claims, both the state and its citizens found themselves grossly unprepared. On June 10, numerous localities in and around Dimapur became submerged, and hundreds of families were left grappling with devastating flash floods, turning the anticipated relief from the heatwave into an unmitigated catastrophe.
Despite the initiation of rescue operations on, no official statements were issued regarding the extent of the damages till Monday evening. The leaders at the helm of affairs remained eerily silent. On the second day, while the Chief Minister and the head of NSDMA was busy tweeting about meetings with delegations, Nagaland’s ‘most tech-savvy’ minister chose to share his thoughts on love, friendship, and ‘amazing music.’ Only a legislator from Dimapur expressed concern for those affected by the heavy downpour on Sunday.
The displayed apathy by those who were supposedly preparing for such eventualities through a series of meetings is even more disheartening given the circumstances. Despite local dailies consistently highlighting the likelihood of heavy rain, as predicted by the India Meteorological Department and private agencies, the NSDMA and other concerned agencies, which used to issue weather warnings intermittently before, remained silent this time. This silence starkly contrasts with the unanimous forecast of heavy rainfall activity provided by all forecasting agencies, including an orange (be prepared) alert.
Furthermore, the NSDMA had established a network of Automatic Weather Stations in collaboration with Skymet Weather Services Pvt. Ltd. to gather crucial weather data for timely disaster response planning and management. However, all these preparations and initiatives are rendered futile if they remain mere nominal gestures without meaningful implementation on the ground.
These recent events expose the glaring unpreparedness and lack of accountability among those at the helm of affairs, despite creating an illusion of readiness through various activities. It is high time that those responsible for the safety and well-being of the people prioritize effective action over empty rhetoric. The citizens of Nagaland deserve leaders who are genuinely prepared and committed to mitigating the impact of disasters, rather than merely going through the motions and leaving them to suffer the consequences.
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