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Thursday, June 20, 2013

U’khand disaster plan doesn’t exist, CAG had warned in April

Early Warning System Was Not In Place

As a humongous natural calamity grips Uttarakhand, it is now emerging that the state has had no disaster management plan worth its name despite the region being highly disasterprone due to fragile mountains, tectonic activity and climatic events.
    A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) released as recently as on April 23 this year says that the State Disaster Management Authority, which was formed in October 2007, has never met till date. Nor has it made any "rules, regulations, policies or guidelines", a preliminary step for the authority to have any functional meaning.

    "The state authorities were virtually non-functional," the report says, referring to the disaster management system, which by definition and law, includes both preparedness as well as response to disasters. "The state disaster management plan was under preparation and actionable programmes were not prepared for various disasters," the report says.
    As if responding to the question whether the recent disaster in Uttarakhand could have been mitigated with the help of early warning, the CAG report says that no plan was prepared for any early warnings. "The communication system was inadequate," the report said.
    As a matter of fact, the
Centre released no funds for the state's disaster management in 2011-12 because there was no accounting of previous funds, the report said.
    Let alone utilizing funds, the state disaster management authority didn't even have
basic personnel in place. At the district level 44% posts in the District Emergency Operations Cells were lying vacant, thus paralyzing emergency response efforts.
60,000 people still stuck in Uttarakhand
Relief operations intensified in rain-battered Uttarakhand on Thursday as rescue workers scrambled to rescue 60,000 people still stranded in various parts of the state. Though the headcount of the dead stands at over 150, even officials feared the toll could run into thousands. Also, almost all national and state highways in the Garhwal region have been badly damaged. P 15 
Over 60,000 people still stranded in flood-hit districts of Uttarakhand
    33,000 people evacuated
and shifted to relief camps
45 aircraft and helicopters as well as over 10,000 troops working to rescue stranded people, provide relief material and restore communication

    Army has also deployed
over 100 special forces troops
in Kedarnath and Sonprayag area, which is cut off
    IAF choppers, which have flown over 150 sorties so far, have airdropped 20,000kg of food and relief material
Officials say it may take 3 years to resume the Char Dham pilgrimage
U'khand also responsible for delay in getting funds from Centre
    There were no master trainers to train staff at the district, block and village level for prevention and mitigation of disasters. No medical personnel were trained in hospital preparedness. What's shocking is that this colossal apathy was despite the fact that 653 persons lost their lives between 2007-8 and 2011-12 in various natural disasters and other hazards. Of these 55% were

lost in landslides and heavy rains. There were 27 major landslides in the state in this period. In 2012 alone, 176 people lost their lives in disasters.
The CAG report draws attention to glaring irregularities in the State Disaster Response Fund. The government is supposed to invest unspent amounts in designated securities. But Uttarakhand did not make the requisite investment ranging from Rs.5.9 crore to Rs.67.2 crore during 2007-8 and 2011-12 resulting in a loss of Rs.9.96 crore.
The state government did not prepare the required Annual Report of Natural Calamity and neither did it submit utilization certificates showing how the funds were spent. The result: delays ranging from 80 to 184 days in release of funds from the central government in the period 2007-2011. Citing examples of the mismanagement by the Uttarakhand government, the CAG said that although the Geological Survey of India had identified 101 villages as 'vulnerable' in June 2008, the state government did not take any measures for their rehabilitation till date.

With the road washed away, ITBP men use ropes to transport stranded pilgrims across raging waters at Govindghat, Chamoli


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