Saturday, July 26, 2008

Disaster Management : Govt of West Bengal style

After almost a year of being obsessed with landslide hazards in our part of the world and after attending two meetings organized by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), I am of the firm belief that at the national level there is a conviction that prevention, preparedness and mitigation is the essence of disaster management along with other factors enumerated in the Disaster Management Act 2005.
Thus the Prime Minister, in his now famous speech to the first Disaster Management Congress in Delhi on 29Nov2006 said "I do believe that the time has come for a paradigm shift in disaster management from a “relief-centric” and “post-event” response, to a regime that lays greater emphasis on preparedness, prevention and mitigation"

Apparently, the"paradigm shift" has not happened in West Bengal.

Placed above are screen shots from the home page of the
Disaster Management Dept, Government of West Bengal (

a) As is apparent there is no mention whatsoever about PREVENTION, PREPAREDNESS AND MITIGATION of natural disasters and the only rant, approx three years after the Disaster Management Act 2005, is still about "RELIEF"!! (SLIDE 1)

b) There is a passing reference to landslides in para 2 of the Introduction (SLIDE 1) but thereafter I found no mention of landslides in all the other links and pdf downloads (though preservation of cattle during relief operations in floods has received a great deal of attention in the "Manual for Relief of Distress" )

c) The organizational structure of the Dept (SLIDE 2) is ALSO woefully "relief centric" headed by the "Minister in Charge Relief" and ending with the "Block Relief Officer" at the grass root level.

As has been repeatedly explained to me, the actual footwork for landslide prevention has to be undertaken/initiated at the State level and presumably by the above department (ie the State Disaster Management Authority or SDMA).
But with "disaster prevention" or "landslides" being totally missing from their vocabulary do we have any hope that the Dept of Disaster Management, Govt of West Bengal will do anything towards this end ???

Time to invoke the Right to Information Act 2005...that will be my next post.

praful rao

1 comment:

Bharat Mani Pradhan said...

Disaster management

Some call India “Youngistan”, but politics in this country is still a haven for the aged. The parliament, for instance, is full of wise, old men and the government took good care of them, just to make sure that these ripe old souls survived the tense floor test. An emergency drill was ordered days before, extra beds and chairs were kept ready at hand, and leave for senior doctors were cancelled. All this was in addition to the regular fleet of doctors and nurses who kept vigil inside parliament’s mobile hospital, as well as the ambulances that were parked outside. The government also took care to make the House safe. SPG men were allowed in the official’s gallery, and, apparently, Congressmen were instructed to be near those who were under the protection of this force.

The aam aadmi were not forgotten in the melee. Special cameras had been installed inside the House to help them get a ringside view of the day’s events. The net result? The netas survived yet another day at office in one piece, but some viewers may have fallen ill after witnessing the goings-on on that fateful day."

- From The Telegraph, Sunday 27 July 2008.