In a bid to ensure quick response to disaster situations and put in place an effective mechanism, particularly for flood, the Cuttack district administration is all set to train local youth in managing disaster.
The administration is planning to provide training in powerboat-driving to the youth from high-risk villages and vulnerable pockets for immediate deployment in times of emergency. Youths would be selected from the villages and sent to the training institute in Ganjam district to acquire boat-driving skills. The skill development will be taken up under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) programme and rolled out soon.
The objective is to take up disaster management, relief and rescue operations instantly during flood situations. The high floods of last year were marked by delay in mobilisation of disaster response due to the suddenness of the situation and lack of adequate number of boatmen and boat drivers.
“Learning from the experience, we have decided to train the local youths, who would take over immediately and handle emergency operations during disaster situations, till official deployments. Boats would be stationed at vulnerable pockets in advance as soon as the warning signals are raised,” said Collector Girish SN.
The administration has also begun recruitment of powerboat drivers and already appointed about 10 drivers and 12 helpers for around 12 boats available with it. The number of powerboats is still not adequate as estimates and requisitions from blocks have pointed to a requirement of at least 57 boats for the district.
There is also a shortfall in country boats. Against a requirement of 191, only 139 are available. The Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) has been approached on the issues.
The floods last year had been severe, affecting more than 5.21 lakh population in around 168 gram panchayats of the district. The devastation was unprecedented even as the flow of water was significantly low at 14 lakh cusec against 16 lakh cusec in the previous high floods.
The administration has identified around 48 vulnerable points on river embankments in the district. Repair and fortifying works have been completed, but they are under constant monitoring which would be intensified during flood situation, Girish said.