Friday, June 13, 2008

Workshop on Disaster Preparedness, Shillong (10-11Jun2008)

The above meeting was organized by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in collaboration with the North Eastern Council (NEC) and Lady Keane College, Shillong. I was fortunate to be able to attend the meeting kind courtesy Dr RK Bhandari and the NDMA.

Placed below is an excerpt from "The Shillong Times" :-


Workshop on disaster management concludes

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: A two-day workshop on Disaster Management Preparedness in Meghalaya was organised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with North Eastern Council (NEC), State government and Lady Keane College concluded on Wednesday.

The objective of this workshop was to initiate a process of interaction between NDMA, NEC, State government and all stake holders to review the disaster preparedness in the State and to chalk out a multi-pronged strategy with prioritization of various initiatives to prepare the State and its people to face disasters in future.

The deliberations of the workshop were led by NEC member PP Srivastava, NDMA member Lt General (Retd) Dr JR Bhardwaj and KM Singh, Revenue Minister EC Bamon and Chief Secretary Ranjan Chatterjee.

Among the experts in the field, IIT Mumbai faculty Prof Ravi Sinha made a presentation on Seismic Risk vulnerability in North East and Dr RK Bhandari elaborated on Landslide Risk in the region.

The participants included officers of the State administration, army, police, Central Police Organisations, Civil Defence and experts from Geological Survey of India, IIT Guwahati, NEIST Jorhat, State Space Application Centre besides Lady Keane College Principal Dr Massar and a large number of students of the college.

A significant feature of this workshop was a Panel Discussion on Role of Media in Disaster Preparedness with the panelist comprising representatives from all the prominent media both electronic and print from the State Administration in NDMA member Lt General (Retd) Dr JR Bhardwaj Emergency elaborated on the Role of Medical Preparedness while his counterpart KM Singh explained the details of proposed National Earthquake Risk Mitigation Project (NERMP) of the NDMA aimed at Capacity Building of large number of Engineers, Architects and Masons in earthquake building technology.

Mr Singh also offered the services of the NDRF to train a section of the Meghalaya Armed Police battalion as State Disaster Response Force as also for various other Community Capacity building measures in association with the State administration.

Lauding the initiative of Lady Keane College, NEC member PP Srivastava exhorted the students and faculty members to evolve a plan of action for spreading awareness and knowledge of simple "do's and don'ts" in various disaster situations and assured all help and training inputs by concerned specialized agencies. That would save lives and property their own, their families and the community.

He also hinted at the need of and mechanism for Inter-State coordination at the Regional level in the event of disaster anywhere in the North Eastern region.

At the end of the panel discussion on Capacity building of first responders, it was agreed that such student community should acquire a prime place in the next scheme of Disaster Preparedness and Awareness generation Campaign.

In this context, BSF Inspector General PK Mishra said that any government institutions, schools and colleges want to train their students in Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness.

Earlier while inaugurating the workshop, Chief Minister Dr Donkupar Roy stressed on the need for proper disaster preparedness in the State which is earthquake prone being located in Seismic Zone V.

He suggested for involvement of all agencies including police, home-guards and village defence parties in the disaster preparedness plan.

"The State government is in the process of finalising the new building bye-laws and amending the Town and Country Planning Act to comply with the new techno-legal requirements" Dr Roy said.

Praising the role of the NDRF in Search and Rescue operations after observing the life demonstrations, the Chief Minster requested for training of State Armed Police Battalions by the NDRF in a phased manner.

He also suggested for setting up of two companies of the NDRF Battalion at Shillong.


Comment by praful rao

The whole experience of attending a national level meeting on Disaster Preparedness with so many experts sharing their expertise on a diverse range of topics relating to Disaster Management was extremely educative to say the least.

But besides all that, what has been achieved is

a) The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been apprised about the serious landslide situation prevailing in Darjeeling district especially after the rains of Sep2007 and the fact that no preventive work has taken place for years. While briefing Shri KM Singh, member NDMA on this issue and I also requested him to consider holding a similar Disaster Preparedness Workshop in Gangtok in the near future (subject to Sikkim govt’s approval).

b) A handout with photographs of landslide areas of the district, a brief write up on the landslide situation and issues to be addressed has been handed over to them and also distributed to many people during the meeting.

c) I have also briefed Dr RK Bhandari about the whole issue.

The downside to all this is that despite everything, disaster management and landslide prevention at the shop floor level remains a state issue under the SDMA (State Disaster Management Authority) , with the District Magistrate as the executive officer in our district.
And in the current political imbroglio, I doubt whether anything will move at all.


Darjeeling Brew said...

Once again, a laudable effort on your part to raise the issue of Darjeeling landslides at a national-level forum. From peak to peak...

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