The Bold Voice of J&K

Disaster management

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Are you waiting for the people to die, the Supreme Court recently asked the Union Government, pulling it up for failing to make the states constitute advisory committees on disaster management preparedness. Under Section 17 of the Disaster Management Act (DMA), “a state authority may, as and when it considers necessary, constitute an advisory committee, consisting of experts in the field of disaster management and having practical experience of disaster management to make recommendations on different aspects of disaster management”. Given J and K’s high disaster vulnerabilities – both natural and manmade – though duly acknowledged in the policy, our approach has to be extraordinary and clear. The first-ever State Disaster Management Plan (SDMP) to reduce the vulnerability to hazards and enhance human and institutional capability to cope with disasters and natural calamities in a more effective manner got Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s approval in 2015. Earlier the draft policy envisaged in 2012 had little which could define an emergency situation as a result of a disaster. The plan was long overdue as there were lessons to be learnt from the devastating floods of 2014 in terms of real-time rescue missions for timely evacuation of people. Today the policy envisaged needed a thorough technical revision to make its terminology in line with the international practice. The risk of ignoring this aspect is that our concepts and actions may not be in tandem with the general understanding on the issue. International experience shows that could prove disastrous in an emergency situation. The Apex Court had earlier directed the Chief Secretaries of states to frame and comply with guidelines under the DMA on the issue of minimum standard of relief to affected persons. The direction had come after it was informed that NDMA has written a letter to all the states asking them to frame the guidelines. The Apex Court had earlier issued notices to Uttarakhand and six other states Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat on the PIL that had alleged that they failed in implementing Disaster Management Act to handle natural catastrophe.

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