KANNUR: Considering the effort and research that have gone into a comprehensive study on the floods witnessed in the state in two consecutive seasons, it would perhaps come as a surprise that the book ‘Disaster Management in Kerala: Undercurrents and Overtones’ is written by a retired school teacher — K P Balan.
A reserved person, Balan lets readers and experts in the subject judge the book and keeps away from voicing any claims regarding the quality and impact of his contribution towards the study of the flood situation in the state. Showering praise on the book, writer K Jayakumar, former chief secretary of the state, said it should be considered a “major resource for future training and studies on disaster management”.
The book is of high academic value, Jayakumar added.
Balan, who retired from the Government Brennen HSS in Thalasserry, landed on the subject during his extensive newspaper reading during the 2018 flood.
“As the disaster was of a high magnitude, and one of the biggest in history since 1924, I had gone through the news published in the newspapers very closely. Everybody was referring to the flood of 1924. But as I went in search of a book or a detailed study about that flood, nothing worthwhile was there about it, apart from some newspaper reports. So I thought, it shouldn’t happen to this flood, as a detailed study about it would be of great value to the administration and the coming generations,” said Balan, a resident of Kizhakkumbhagam near Pinarayi.
Since he thought the subject would be of great interest to those outside the state, and even overseas, he decided to write in English.
“It was not easy for a person without any influence like me. I went through many government documents that I had attained through around 3,000 RTI applications. It took more than two years for me to finish writing the 427-page book. I hope my work would serve as material for scientific discussion,” Balan said.
He has tried to depict the reasons behind the huge impact of the flood on the geography and the people of the state through eleven chapters.
“Instead of following the general trend of portraying the tragedies, personal losses and other sentimental elements, I have concentrated on facts, figures, policy directions and the decisions taken at the government level. It can also be read as a historical and ecological study of the floods that hit the state,” he said.
Disasters are studied in three stages — pre-disaster, disaster, and post-disaster.
The study engages the various dimensions of rescue, relief and rehabilitation measures undertaken by the government, and provides insight into what Kerala can learn after the disaster in taking precautions and how it can implement the Rebuild Kerala initiative.
The book was released by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in October at the Pinarayi Convention Centre. “I have received encouraging feedback from the readers, and the messages I received from former chief secretary K Jayakumar and Dr. Ravi Raman, state planning board member, give me immense satisfaction and joy,” Balan said.