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Disasters aplenty, no overall plan in place to tackle them

Published: 22nd July 2013 12:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd July 2013 01:04 PM   |  A+A-

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The state capital has been hit by different kinds of disasters — bomb blasts, collapse of dilapidated buildings and flash floods - over the years leading to loss of lives, limbs and properties. In spite of this, the state government has failed to put in place a City Disaster Management Plan (CDMP) to ensure the safety of the city’s 80 lakh population.

The recent collapse of the City Light Hotel in Secunderabad, the major fire accidents elsewhere and  the bomb blasts that rocked Dilsukhnagar a few months back have once again exposed the government’s unpreparedness to dealing with such disasters. The city lies in a seismic zone and is also prone to urban flooding.

The State Government gave the task for preparing a comprehensive CDMP for Hyderabad to the Centre for Good Governance (CGG) long ago but the plan is yet to see the light of day. The CCG held a series of meetings with various stake-holders in the last one year but has not yet been able to submit a detailed report to the government.

The CDMP is envisaged as a comprehensive mechanism with well-defined institutional structure, incident command system, alarm mechanism, control room contacts, vulnerable localities, standard operating procedures and contacts.

GHMC officials told Express that the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), APSRTC, AP Fire Services, APCPDCL, Police and other departments had their own plans for dealing with natural and man-made disasters. But there was no comprehensive and unified CDMP for the city as a whole.

GHMC Disaster Management Cell (DMC) Executive Engineer G Ram Prakash said that the corporation had prepared a temporary draft disaster management plan to deal with urban flooding and monsoon preparedness.  He explained that the DMC should have had at least 60 well-trained staff from different departments to work in two shifts to deal with disasters but unfortunately this was not the case now.

GHMC Commissioner  M T Krishna Babu has written letters to the state government for providing necessary trained staff from different departments but there has been no response from the government. When disasters strike in city, the GHMC emergency cell staff are sent to deal with the situation.

When disasters take place, various departments implement their own disaster management plans. With lack of coordination with other departments, this only hampered rescue and relief operations during the disasters, he said.

A disaster is defined as a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence from natural or man-made causes, which is beyond the coping capacity of the affected community.

The concept of disaster management plan at different levels became mandatory with the passage of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 by Parliament. Earlier, such plans were being prepared at the district level only. The Act provides for the formulation of a national plan on disaster management, along with similar plans at state and district levels.

The NDMA had launched several initiatives for disaster risk reduction, addressing the components relating to prevention, mitigation and preparedness but the response was lacking from the state governments, NDMA Vice Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy said.

Reddy, who has been associated with the NDMA since its inception, said that he had been goading the AP government to come up with a state disaster management plan as well as district and city disaster management plans for several years now but nothing had come out of it, he lamented.

The NDMA formulated the National, State and District Policy on Disaster Management with a vision to build a safe and disaster-resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster-oriented and technology-driven strategy through a culture of prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response, he said.

He said that even Krishna Babu had admitted that Hussainsagar and the densely populated surrounding areas could not withstand an Uttarakhand-like cloudburst. Long-term strategies should be put in place to help tide over the crisis of such magnitude.

The NDMA also wanted the implementation of Model of Emergency Management Exercises (EMEx) in urban areas. In this multi stake-holder function, a number of emergency support functions would come together to create the emergency management system.

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