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Dealing with Disasters in Uttarakhand

Understanding how the Government does and does not work

Dr Nitin Pandey

16-Sept-2010

The recent tragedy in Bageshwar district in which 18 children were killed when landslide hit their school has once again brought in focus the extreme vulnerability of our State to disasters. Landslides, Cloud Bursts, Earthquakes & Road Accidents occur with distressing regularity and inability of the administration to give prompt relief, invites criticism, some of which may or may not be entirely fair.

Suneel Muttoo
Suneel Muttoo, Secretary, Dept. of Disaster Management

“The basic problem in managing disasters in our State” says Suneel Muttoo, Secretary, Dept. of Disaster Management, Govt. of Uttarakhand, “is the topography of the state; roads get blocked, communication links are snapped and electricity is not available in times of natural disasters like landslides. So getting in men and equipment takes time. Stationing all equipment in every village is not possible and disasters rarely reoccur in the same place. Sunehargar village in Bageshwar district where the school tragedy took place is not a known landslide prone area” he explains.

At the national level, disasters are managed under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, under which the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) functions. Uttarakhand ratified the act soon thereafter, and has set up the State Disaster Management Authority, though as Muttoo admits, the authority has never met till date.

Muttoo adds “The District Disaster Management Authorities, headed by the DM, are active and a number of districts have prepared the District Disaster Response Plans. We also regularly conduct mock drills and recently one such drill was mistaken by the Chief Minister as an actual earthquake event.” Though the DDMA’s as yet have no separate staff, recently around 300 posts have been sanctioned and will soon be filled. Taking the efforts to village level, there is a proposal to identify 670 villages at high risk for natural disasters or along the Yatra route, where twenty membered Search & Rescue Parties will be appointed and equipped with necessary equipment. “The final and most important link in the Disaster Management plan will be having people trained in search and rescue in each village. We are imparting training in the villages and on a number of occasions such trained people have saved lives especially in road accidents” says Mr Muttoo.

In the State Capital are the Disaster Management and Mitigation Center (DMMC) which is an advisory body carrying out studies on various aspects of disaster management and the Emergency Management Operations Center (EMOC) which is meant to effectively disseminate information of disasters. “The EMOC has been working around the clock during the recent floods” reveals Muttoo. Recently 280 posts have been sanctioned for District EMOCs, so that information is disseminated quickly from the district level. Questioning however revealed the severe limitations the entire setup works in. For instance, there are no funds for preventing disasters. “90% of the funds for Disaster Management come from the National Calamity Contingency Fund and are only for assistance in case of a disaster, there is no money to take preventive measures, which are meant to be taken by the district administration, which is also responsible for identifying vulnerable areas and ensuring that safety norms are followed in construction of buildings.” Muttoo also revealed that the State Government had recently signed an agreement with UNDP for setting up of Disaster Cells in Dehra Dun, Haridwar & Nanital. A UNDP representative will soon be posted in these places to ensure future construction under JNNURM conforms to safety norms. When asked about the old crumbling school & government buildings and the unauthorized colonies on river banks like Rispana & Bindal in Dehra Dun, which are at high risk in case of a cloud burst, he expressed his helplessness saying it was upto the local bodies to take action.

“While we have identified 101 villages in Uttarakhand which are at high risk for land-slides, but we have neither money nor land to resettle them” he admits. He also admits that the State Administration has not analysed and nor catered for the Dam Break Analysis plans for various dams in Uttarakhand and said that the NDMA did assess the DMA of Tehri Dam. When asked about the need to procure Doppler Radars to give cloud burst warnings, he said that the Met Department had not communicated any such requirements to the Disaster Management Ministry.

“The basic feature of any disaster management in Uttarakhand is to train and equip volunteers at the village level so that prompt aid reaches the victims. This is the focus of our government. The people, the politicians and the local bodies need to be committed to disaster prevention. Until this commitment does not seep in the system, government’s actions alone will not bear fruit” he concludes.



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Date05-Sep-13
From: Sumanta Acharya
I MAM VERY SHOCKED AND DEEPLY SORROW, GIVE MY TRIBUTE THOSE WHO LOST HIS LIFE IN UTTRAKHAND.IF I CONTRIBUTE IN ANY WAY OVER THERE I CAN.


Date04-Sep-13
From: Naveen Panchal
Philanthrope is a leading humanitarian, non-profit, national, non- governmental organization working towards the goal of a Disaster Resilient India by enhancing the capacity of every Indian for emergency preparedness and disaster management through training, awareness and capacity building workshops and by providing expertise and assistance in preparing disaster management plans for corporate sector and, to provide disaster resilient business continuity solutions. Since its inception in 2008, Philanthrope has trained and built the capacity of 40000 persons in disaster preparedness and had trained the Commonwealth Games 2010 Volunteers in disaster preparedness. The Chairperson of Philanthrope, Dr. Angeli Qwatra, is a renowned medical rescue management expert with national and international experience in capacity building training programs in disaster and emergency preparedness. We are committed to deliver to the cause if given opportunity to train and prepare the disaster management plans.


Date16-Aug-13
From: dr manjula rau
i am a doctor my husband is a retired i as officer we have heard and seen on tv.s that many children are wanting adoption we are intrested in adopting agirl child beloe 5 years could u please tell us whome should we contact thanking you dr manjula rau


Date16-Aug-13
From: dr manjula rau
i am a doctor my husband is a retired i as officer we have heard and seen on tv.s that many children are wanting adoption we are intrested in adopting agirl child beloe 5 years could u please tell us whome should we contact thanking you dr manjula rau


Date16-Aug-13
From: dr manjula rau
i am a doctor my husband is a retired i as officer we have heard and seen on tv.s that many children are wanting adoption we are intrested in adopting agirl child beloe 5 years could u please tell us whome should we contact thanking you dr manjula rau


Date16-Aug-13
From: dr manjula rau
i am a doctor my husband is a retired i as officer we have heard and seen on tv.s that many children are wanting adoption we are intrested in adopting agirl child beloe 5 years could u please tell us whome should we contact thanking you dr manjula rau


Date20-Jul-13
From: Lt.Col.(Retd) JC JOSHI
Respected Sir, 1.We have submitted a Strategic Action Plan-SAP (JAGRITI) to find a workable solution to our problems in integrating hill economy with the main stream of the national life.When Khanduriji became CM of the state , a copy was sent to him with 9in a week of his appointment as CM. Mrs.Sonia Gandhi in 2009, after we returned all 5 MPs from her party.But nothing happened. If interested, we can send a copy for perusal and action. Since we are born in that area therefore we know our land and people well,thus could formulate a practical plan. Most of the planning is done by those who come on a pleasure trip/ their parents lived in UK, as such lack that personal touch which makes a plan success. Regards,


Date20-Jul-13
From: Lt.Col.(Retd) JC JOSHI
Respected Sir, 1.We have submitted a Strategic Action Plan-SAP (JAGRITI) to find a workable solution to our problems in integrating hill economy with the main stream of the national life.When Khanduriji became CM of the state , a copy was sent to him with 9in a week of his appointment as CM. Mrs.Sonia Gandhi in 2009, after we returned all 5 MPs from her party.But nothing happened. If interested, we can send a copy for perusal and action. Since we are born in that area therefore we know our land and people well,thus could formulate a practical plan. Most of the planning is done by those who come on a pleasure trip/ their parents lived in UK, as such lack that personal touch which makes a plan success. Regards,


Date11-Jul-13
From: PRASHANT NEGI
The article presented by Sh. Mutoo sir is very good and focusses mainly on the problems that need to be solved out at each and every level whether concerned to Met.Dept for procurement policy of Doppler radars or financial problem or land for re-settlement of land slide affected villagers.The SAR teams from state level to village level should be formed so as to mitigate the loss of life and everything in case of any type of disaster. Task forces on the pattern of NDRF should be formed with their area of responsibility being marked.Now its the time to wake up and implement all these things on ground and not on paper.


Date25-Jun-13
From: pratigya
i 'll pray for those who lost their life and also for overcoming those who are confined in this disaster.if nothing will be done soon ,the situation will be dangerous day by day.


Date22-Jun-13
From: SARVJEET SINGH
I MAM VERY SHOCKED AND DEEPLY SORROW, GIVE MY TRIBUTE THOSE WHO LOST HIS LIFE IN UTTRAKHAND.IF I CONTRIBUTE IN ANY WAY OVER THERE I CAN.


Date13-Aug-12
From: prashant negi
It was a very well written article. I appreciate the steps that are being taken by the govt. in order to mitigate the disasters.It is the duty of govt. to take steps but i think until n unless every person takes step it would be very much difficult for the govt. to tackle any type of disaster. Thanks sir for such efforts.


Date03-Aug-12
From: Vasu Anand
Since yesterday night there are calls received by me from my people at Uttarkashi of devastating Floods while I am not able to see any such news on Internet & or News Channels.I am told of loss of life & damage.Please extend all possible help.


Date01-Aug-12
From: mohani devi
I am 40 years widow and residing at my parental very dangerous Kachha House of Village Papoli P O Kathpuria Distt Almora Uttarakhand. On 25th July due heavy rain my house collapsed and now there is no option to live ahead Kindly suggest me to whom district or block authority to take benefit to revamp my house Mohani Devi Village Papoli P O Kathpuria Block Hawalbag Distt. Almora


Date01-Aug-12
From: mohani devi
I am 40 years widow and residing at my parental very dangerous Kachha House of Village Papoli P O Kathpuria Distt Almora Uttarakhand. On 25th July due heavy rain my house collapsed and now there is no option to live ahead Kindly suggest me to whom district or block authority to take benefit to revamp my house Mohani Devi Village Papoli P O Kathpuria Block Hawalbag Distt. Almora


Date12-Jul-12
From: SUMIT ANDOLA
SIR MAE BAGESHWAR SE HUN OR HALDWANI MAE STUDY KAR RAHA HUN. LAST YEAR MAINE DISASTER MANAGEMENT MAE DIPLOMA KA COURSE KARA HAI.. MAE KISI NGO K SATH ES FIELD MAE KAM KARNA CHAHTA HUN SPECIALLY UTTARAKHAND K KUMAUN MAE.. PLEASE AAP MERE MARG DARSHAK K RUP MAE GUIDE KARE... WITH REGARDS SUMIT ANDOLA


Date06-Jun-12
From: rajendra singh
Dear sir, "Namaskar" sir, me ishi filed me carrer banana chahta hu. uttrakhand me iska kya future he. kya hame degree ya diploma karne ke baad job milegi ya nahi. sir apse requiest he jarrur iska ans. dene ki kirpa kare. Thanks&Rgd,s Rajendra singh




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