THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Hasn’t Kerala learnt yet from the past mistakes, especially in preparing itself to prevent or respond to the recurring calamities and disasters?
It’s a statutory obligation of every department in the state to prepare a disaster management plan and submit it to the state disaster management authority (SDMA), but even the police department which falls under the home ministry headed by the chief minister does not have the plan ready.
Nor does the agriculture department, with the farm sector incurring losses running into crores of rupees every monsoon season, including this year. Only six departments have the plan ready despite the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (Central Act 53) mandating it.
In his reply to a question by Congress’ Shafi Parambil in the assembly, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said only homoeopathy, PWD-NH, fire and rescue services, health, soil survey and animal husbandry departments have prepared and submitted their own plans so far. The plan is an effort to mainstream all issues concerned with emergency preparedness, response and mitigation/risk reduction activities.
While both soil survey and animal husbandry departments submitted their plans after the 2018 mega flood, the agriculture department is yet to react despite lakhs of farmers suffering heavy losses. The sector suffered losses to the tune of `548.36 crore during the current northeast monsoon alone after crops in 62,991.41 hectares belonging to 1.43 lakh farmers were damaged.
Disaster Management Centre of Kerala former head K G Thara described it as “shocking”. “All departments are connected to the disaster management authority and they should have their own plans, as prevention of damage or destruction is their main purpose,” Thara said. In a communication sent to various departments in 2015, the SDMA had said unless this statutory requirement is met, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs may even refuse to consider the requests of the state for relief or assistance.
Disaster mgmt plan
- Prevention and mitigation
- Emergency response
- Relief and recovery
- Resource planning (financial and human)
Depts that submitted it
- PWD NH division (2017)
- Fire and rescue (2017)
- Health (2018)
- Soil survey (2020)
- Animal husbandry (2020)