Modernise disaster response in NE: Rio
DIMAPUR, FEBRUARY 18
BRINGING home the cardinal truth about human frailty before the fury of element even as we human beings aspire for the sky and endeavour to fulfill a thousand things, State Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio, today sounded an imperative need to strengthen efforts with the latest and most relevant equipments in preparedness in the event of natural catastrophe in the region.
Rio said the objective in formulating the Incident Response System (IRS) is to minimize loss of life and property by strengthening and standardizing the disaster response mechanism in the country. He said IRS aims to establish an effective, efficient and comprehensive disaster response system by putting in place a well coordinated response mechanism at all levels of administration to avoid adhocism and reduce avoidable loss of life, sufferings of people and damage to properties.
Rio said a proper understanding in the implementation of IRS with different roles and responsibilities assigned to different officials and organizations would enable the government and the people to effectively respond to large-scale disaster in the quickest and most coordinated way. He added that such a set-up will at once enable effective and prompt interventions in terms of rescue, relief and also rehabilitation of the affected population.
Rio said this while addressing the inaugural session of a three day Training of Trainer (TOT) on Incident Response System (IRS) for officials of Northeastern states here this morning in Rhododendron Hall, NAPTC Complex. The training is being conducted by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Government of India, and hosted by the Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA).
Stating that Northeastern region has a peculiar topography and a different social profile from the rest of the country with various attendant vulnerabilities, Rio has suggested the officials to take all these factors into account while formulating and planning specific policies for disaster management in the northeast.
Rio pointed out the high economic effects of landslides on the State exchequer which included the costs of for repair of utility structures, restoration of property, disruption of transportation route and medical costs in the event of injury, among others. Besides, he also cited the recent fires at Mount Japfü which according to him is another area of concern over the devastation caused by forest fire.
Recalling the 1897 Shillong earthquake that clocked 8.7 on the Richter Scale, 1950 Assam earthquake and 1984 Cachar earthquake where several lives were lost. He said a dreadful catastrophe awaits us if an earthquake of similar intensity were to strike the region in today’s time when population density has increased manifold and our towns and cities are full of high rise buildings- many built without proper adherence to safety standards.
Rio encouraged the participants to take the training as a golden opportunity to further hone their knowledge in strengthening and tightening up systemic response to disasters through the IRS.
Rio also has urged the Government of India, particularly NDMA, to further fine tune the disaster management mechanism for the northeast region, duly taking into account the geographical distance from the Mainland and the rising costs. He has suggested a re-look into the norms prescribed for dispensation of relief under State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). Stating that that most of the ceilings thus prescribed proved to be incommensurate to the actual extent of loss or damage to property sustained by an individual, Rio said there is a need for further enhancement beyond the revised rates of 2013.Limited revenues at the disposal of many states in the region, has meant that professionally equipped Disaster Response Force still remains a dream, Rio hoped NDMA will revisit the provisions under the SRDF and effect necessary relaxation for the region.
In preparation for the mega mock exercise scheduled in the month of March 2014, Rio said training on Mass Casualty Management for medical personnel, Rapid Visual Screening for engineers to ensure safety of life-line buildings, and mock drill in different districts have been conducted in Nagaland. He added that NSDMA will shortly be starting an extensive outreach programme on forest fires specifically targeting the communities living in and around such hazardous and forested hilly terrain.
Earlier, members from NDMA JK Sinha and KM Singh delivered short speeches. Dreamz Unlimited also presented a skit on disaster awareness.