Indian Church seeks monsoon precautions

Weather warnings and mandatory building inspections could help save lives
Indian Church seeks monsoon precautions

Rescue personnel where the wall of a school in Mumbai, India, collapsed on adjoining dwellings killing more than 21 people on July 2. (IANS photo) reporter, New Delhi
July 4, 2019
The Catholic Church in India has sought pre-emptive government measures to combat future monsoon tragedies amid a loss of lives from storms in western Maharashtra state.

Some 50 people have died and many others were injured during torrential monsoon rains in the past week.

In a major mishap, the Tiware Dam in Ratnagiri district breached late July 3, flooding at least seven villages and washing away 12 houses with the confirmed loss of 20 lives.

Many more are feared to have died.

Local residents said the dam's wall, that started overflowing the previous day, had already developed cracks.

In another incident, at least 21 people died in the early hours of July 2 when a wall collapsed on shanties in a western suburb of Mumbai, India's business capital.

Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, vice president of Catholic bishops' conference, said the tragedy was a wake-up call for the government to take precautions, especially as more heavy rains are expected.

"The government must take steps to safeguard lives," the bishop told

"The state has facilities to forecast weather and can take measures to avoid loss of lives."

Retired auxiliary Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias of Bombay said both tragedies could have been avoided had government officials conducted mandatory inspections and taken other pre-emptive measures.

"The government ought to foresee the outcome of incessant rains that can continue for days," Bishop Gracias said.

There was adequate technologies available to predict many natural calamities, he added.

Father Nigel Barrett, spokesperson for the Bombay Archdiocese termed the latest loss of lives as "tragic and sorrowful".

The monsoon season witnessed a series of calamities during recent years in the nation of 1.2 billion people.

The monsoon begins when rains hit southern India in June, with rain clouds moving across the mainland throughout July and August.

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During the 2017 monsoon, considered the worst since 2007, more than 1,000 people died and over 30 million were displaced by flooding.

It is estimated that 300,000 hectares of crops were destroyed in the deluges.

Incessant rains in August 2018 caused heavy landslides and flooding in southern Kerala, killing close to 500 people.

More than 800,000 families were rendered homeless when flash flood and landslides affected a dozen states, mostly in the nation's east. 

Drastic climate change in the country has been partly attributed to rapid urbanization and shrinking forest cover.

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