Monsoon is one of my favorite seasons. Petrichor – the fresh smell of earth after a downpour is such a pleasant one, it rejuvenates me and recharges my energy. As the dust of Kathmandu settles down with rain, for a short, the air surrounding the valley becomes fresh and breathable. Even today, when I am home, I still prefer jumping into puddles and getting drenched in the rain. Simply put, the pleasantness of monsoon revives the child in me. And nothing soothes my soul more than the lullaby of raindrops tapping on the window sill as I drift into sleep. A living dream, I must say.
But monsoon is sadly not limited to its goodness. A dream to me is also a nightmare to thousands of people residing in most parts of our country, including Kathmandu valley. It is not new for us to hear a lot of accidents and floods with the onset of monsoon. This year was nothing new.
Photo credit: Ashma Gautam Photography
A Dhapakhel residing friend of mine complains of a monsoon pool that forms outside her house every year. The main problem is that the rainwater flows down from uphill areas, gets accumulated downhill and since the area lacks proper drainage system, the water along with mud and other flowing residue tends to form a massive pool which remains as it is until it dries off naturally. This problem has been severe for the last two years, she recalls. And it has highly affected residents annually.
Another friend of mine residing in Pasikot, Buddanilkantha suffers from monsoon woes because of her two neighboring localities that sandwich her home. The clogged rainwater creates a dispute between the two areas and the water pool is formed right in front of her house because the outlet is blocked by the low-lying locality. Kids, however, seem to make the best out of the free, natural swimming pool they were gifted with.
To add to these pools and puddles, this year gigantic potholes have topped our list of monsoon problems. Numerous potholes can be spotted around the valley, left uncovered. These holes were problematic prior to monsoon too but the problems have been amplified more with the downpour. Along with several bikes plunging into different potholes around the valley, a four-wheeler falling into brought the issue front and center. Also, two girls being engulfed by the uncovered roadside canal at two different locations inside the Kathmandu valley have terrified residents. One of the girls was rescued, while the other lost her life in course of treatment.
A roadside pothole that becomes life threatening is no small matter. It finally made Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba concerned enough to issue a directive to authorities to fix potholes, uncovered pits and drains on the road within 15 days.
Is it mandatory to lose lives to finally get attention from the governing bodies? Does a four-wheeler and or a human have to drown in a pothole before it becomes big enough news?
Directives have been issued, but who will act on them? And how soon can we get out of our homes without worrying about getting swept away down the street? Hopefully soon, before another bout of rain, and another lost life.