Saturday, July 19, 2008

NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) Landslide Awareness Workshop at Kolkata (16Jul2008)













The meeting began with Shri KM Singh outlining the purpose of the meeting; this was followed by many of the speakers giving their presentations - the STH presentation consisted of a short talk followed by a 5 min slideshow called "The Writing on the Wall" - showing a landslide photographs from 1899 to 29Jun2008.

Some important points which emerged:-

a) Shri KM Singh, Hon Member of the NDMA in his keynote address stated that the Kolkata meeting was because of West Bengal State Governor's (and certain MP’s) interest in the landslide hazard in Darjeeling/ Sikkim and also a fallout of the interaction with SaveTheHills (STH) in the NDMA conference in Shillong (10-12Jun2008).

b) He also stated that the AIM of the Kolkata conference was to see how the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) could help in capacity building as regards landslides in Darjeeling/Sikkim.

(For anyone interested there are 8 Battalions (Bn) of NDRF in the country, composed of troops from the para- military forces. They are specially trained and equipped to handle threats from natural/ manmade disasters. The formation of NDRF is the result of requirements set forth in the Disaster Management Act2005.
Shri KM Singh in the NDMA is directly in charge of the NDRF )


c) W Bengal State Disaster Management Authority's (SDMA) lukewarm response towards the landslide workshop in Kolkata was very apparent; they had sent two junior “Relief”officers who had no knowledge about landslide hazard in Darjeeling district. This was noted by the NDMA.

d) I interacted briefly with Dr N Som (Former Professor of Civil Engineering and Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Technology. Jadavpur University, Kolkata), before the meeting and asked his views about the landslide situation in Darjeeling/ Sikkim.
He was categorical in stating that the landslide problem would only be alleviated by consistent and proactive involvement of the affected people. He quoted an example where some measurements were to be taken in a landslide study Jadavpur University was doing in Sikkim - he said that even though the measurements could easily have been done by the local people, they were not bothered as such the university had to send people up once a month from Jadavpur to take these measurements.

e) When I requested that automatic rain gauges be installed in landslide prone populated areas (as a somewhat crude way of predicting landslides), Mr Sunil Dhar from Defence Terrain Research Laboratory (DTRL) said that he had done this exercise earlier in Sikkim but the rain gauges were stolen within a short span of time.

Decisions

a) It was decided that NDRF would take time to train people in landslide disasters since this form of natural disaster was new to them. They would however assist organizations such as DTRL and STH in raising public awareness thru publicity brochures, programs, workshops and so on.

b) DTRL together with STH would conduct landslide awareness workshops in Darjeeling district sometime after the monsoons

c) A core group consisting of 4 members and inclusive of STH would be formed to monitor the landslide issue.

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Comment by praful rao

The good thing about our type of disaster ie landslides is that

a) To a large extent they can be predicted (unlike earthquakes for example).

b) To a large extent they can also be controlled and prevented.

Another good part is that only about 10% of the country is landslide prone - which is where our problems start.. you see not many people know about this hazard and worse still we, the affected people, never make a noise about it.
As such it has remained a hazard which slowly spread its tentacles into our innards without anyone knowing/caring about it...

To that extent I am extremely happy about the outcome of this meeting- the highest body in the country dealing with disasters ie the NDMA has responded in a most positive manner...
I think that gives us a reason to smile...


2 comments:

anuj said...

Kudos to Praful Uncle...

Point #1 shows the impact of the past year's efforts by STH.

a) Shri KM Singh, Hon Member of the NDMA in his keynote address stated that the Kolkata meeting was because of West Bengal State Governor's (and certain MP’s) interest in the landslide hazard in Darjeeling/ Sikkim and also a fallout of the interaction with SaveTheHills (STH) in the NDMA conference in Shillong (10-12Jun2008).

Thank You!!!

Dr Dave said...

Dear Praful,

Thanks for this update. The meeting sounds very positive - you have achieved a huge amount. Well done.

Dave