Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ist West Bengal State Disaster Risk Reduction Congress at Kolkata (22-24Apr2010) - decidely, a Non-Event

Approx 14 delegates (representing the NGOs Anugyalaya / DLR Prerna / Friends of Trees and SaveTheHills)  from the hill subdivisions of Darjeeling district attended the 3 day Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Congress at Salt Lake Stadium between the 22 -24Apr 2010.
To all of us who attended, the initiative from the State IAG and Dept of Disaster Management, Govt of W Bengal was decidedly a non-event because :-
a) The entire proceedings for the 3 days were conducted in Bengali, a language which not many amongst us were familiar with.
b) More importantly, the focus of the disaster risk reduction congress remained entirely on effects of  cyclone AILA in the plains, floods and Tsunamis. As such landslides, sadly remained " a Silent Disaster".
The serious landslide problem in the Darjeeling hills was barely mentioned in all the technical sessions except when specific questions were directed at the panelists.
This disaster form (landslides) are without a doubt the most serious environmental hazard which directly or indirectly impacts the lives of almost all the people living in the Darjeeling Himalayas; as such, I wonder why it escaped more serious consideration and was almost entirely sidelined during the 1st West Bengal State Disaster Risk Reduction Congress.

Praful Rao

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