It never rains: it pours!

By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee 

If we needed any confirmation of this well-known proverb at all, we have surely got it literally in the recent few weeks and days. After a long spell of dryness along with stifling heat, we have had a pattern of several days of continuous heavy rainfall, or downpours of the convectional type of rainfall (that we learnt about in our geography lessons at school) on certain days. These have all helped to relieve our water supply situation that had reached worryingly low levels during the prolonged dry season, with various reasons advanced by different interested parties to explain – or rationalize – the dire state of affairs.

Fortunately for us, as we are apparently a very religious, or perhaps religious-minded people, the rain gods seem to have listened to our pleas, and catastrophe was averted by the bounty from the skies in time to save us the lumpen masses and also perhaps to save many a face. My maid, who is of Catholic faith, was convinced that with the advent of Maha Shivaratri the rains would come. As it happens, they did, albeit that was a good number of days before the event, but then we should not be too finicky isn’t it? What’s a few days here and there on a cosmic scale? The main point is that yes, around Maha Shivaratri time, there is usually plenty of rain, which we have had before the festival, and now after it also we are being ‘blessed.’ We could not ask for more.

According to figures available yesterday, La Nicoliere and Piton du Milieu reservoirs are full, and Mare-aux-Vacoas is about 45% full. While this provides comfort to us, we must remember that the situation can turn around any time, and therefore we must continue with the measures advocated by the competent authorities to avoid wasting water. We have the unfortunate tendency to quickly lapse into old, bad habits as soon as there is slight improvement, only to regret anew later. It is perhaps quite human to want to forget negative things as soon as they are over and get on, but in this particular instance we have a tremendous individual and collective responsibility to be sensible. This may be considered as an appeal by an ordinary citizen to fellow countrymen – for having heard so many stories of others who are suffering from lack of water in their respective localities.

On the other hand – and here I must declare interest – people must not get scared about gastroenteritis overwhelming us. This is a condition that is well known to have seasonal variations, and so it is at present. Over the past few weeks there has been a certain increase in the number of cases compared to the same period last year: but then last year we did not have drought and drastic water cuts as have happened this year. So from a medical point of view this increase is quite to be expected, and we are not unduly perturbed because we know exactly what is happening, and why. The most important point to appreciate is that our health services are well equipped to cope with the situation, and here people must help themselves by paying attention to the communiqué that has been issued to the media about the precautions that they have to take to prevent themselves and their families from being infected, and put them into practice to the letter. I pray that this advice will be heeded.

I would like at this stage to quote a few lines that have been written in another context, but which I feel are relevant to our concern:

‘In the name of the religion of economic development, whose God is money, the only Reality that is recognized, land has been exploited, water has been contaminated and air has been polluted at an accelerating pace in recent decades. The frenzy of this development has made people unaware of the destruction that is caused to such an extent as to deprive future generations the means of sustenance despite the warning signals that are already there in the form of global warning and climate change. If only the speed is regulated, the elements will regenerate themselves to last forever. If groundwater is not overdrawn, the rains will recharge it. Nature has its own mechanism for regeneration to maintain life on earth. Respect for the elements implies understanding the Law of Regeneration and complying with it.’

How far are we willing to comply?

* Published in print edition on 11 March 2011

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