Thursday, May 26, 2005

Govt wakes up to disaster management

Govt wakes up to disaster management
The Times of India

Bangalore: After the three-day devastation across the city due to storms, tree trunks were lying unattended even on Wednesday. The state government has now decided to speed up the work of setting up a disaster-management authority in the state.

“The draft Bill is ready and it will come into force in a matter of weeks, as soon as it is passed by the Cabinet,’’ revenue secretary S.M. Jaamdar told The Times of India. “State’s disaster-management plan is huge, comprehensive and longranged. It looks into all types of calamities, natural and man-made, epidemics, terrorism, bomb explosions etc.”

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, departments of fire force, Home Guards and civil defence were to prepare a comprehensive disaster management plan for the state. The deputy commissioners of all the 27 districts of the state submitted blueprints of vulnerable points in their areas. This was step one for enacting the Disaster-Management Plan Act and setting up of a disaster-management authority.

Once in place, the new body promises a safe monsoon. It will work towards creating public awareness, mitigation and taking action when a calamity strikes. “Possible sources of disaster threat, major installations that could be possible targets and kinds of threat perception have all been chalked out. The authority will be the co-ordinating agency that will pin point the lead agency for a particular threat,’’ said Karnataka state fire and emergency services IGP M.N. Reddi.

The revenue department, which has improvised the blueprints, has prepared the estimates, which run into massive amounts as it also includes procurement of “hi-tech’’ inventory to handle calamities, sources said.

“Minute details have been included in the plan: number of hospitals in various areas along with their contact details, closest doctors and nurses and their phone numbers, the police officers to reach, the list of non-governmental organisations, crane-hiring agencies, dealers of mobile generators, blood banks and others. Specific details too have been worked out; for instance, the number of boats in the coastal districts and in what condition they are,’’ said director of Drought Monitoring Cell V.S. Prakash, also in charge of disaster management.

Vulnerabilities have been listed after studying past incidents. In case of Bangalore, issues like clogged drains that overflow during rain, houses that get inundated and traffic have been marked as priority.

Government sources said the authority will be headed by the chief minister. The chief secretary will be in charge of the functionary wing.


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