The Bold Voice of J&K

Slack approach

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It seems government was caught napping when the calamity of this magnitude struck the State and it took a fortnight again to set up a Coordinating and Communication Centre. The State Government’s initiative to use social media to reach out the people by setting up a 24×7 Connect Centre for relief and rescue operations reflects the slackness of the government over the preparedness to meet any catastrophe. When a tragedy of same magnitude struck Uttarakhand on 16th-17th June, 2013 the state had Indian Red Cross responding to the disaster by mobilising the National Disaster Response Team (NDRT) and Regional Disaster Response Team (RDRT) members who were alerted for possible deployment. The national headquarters despatched a two member team to Uttarakhand on the 19th June 2013 for carrying out assessment of the needs of the community in coordination with the officials of the Uttarakhand State Red Cross and to follow it with the organisation of relief work. In Jammu and Kashmir there was no such response and the directives of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to set up Emergency Operation Centres too was not heeded to. With Srinagar under water and no communication links working government had no option but to set up the Connect Centre in Jammu. The centre has begun working with telephone lines active and computer links yet to be established at district level. As far as data collection is concerned government will have to depend on army because the security forces were the first to respond. One wonders how government is going to get information from remote areas where even they don’t have any means of communication what to talk of disseminating information. Had the government heeded to the advice of setting up of emergency operation centres at least relief and rescue works would have been much fasters. No doubt using social media would enhance the reach of dissemination of information but how it would be easy for a common man to link up is intriguing especially when communication links in the affected areas are yet to be restored fully.

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