Bhubaneswar, Oct. 29: The Odisha government has decided to impart disaster management training to 10,000 college students in the wake of the state witnessing two consecutive calamities within a fortnight.
“We have planned to integrate youth power with disaster management. Ten thousand student volunteers from 100 colleges will be trained on basic management skills by the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority,” chief minister Naveen Patnaik said today.
Stating that people in the 13 to 35 age group accounts for 42 per cent of the state’s population, Naveen said: “Youngpeople can play an important role in disaster management. They are our strength.”
Fourteen years ago, the supercyclone had devastated Odisha and left about 10,000 people dead.
“Due to our extensive preparedness, we were able to minimise human casualties in Phailin and the successive floods that hit the state this time,” said Naveen.
The severe cyclonic storm Phailin, which struck Odisha on October 12, caused extensive damage in 18 districts. The Phailin-induced incessant rainfall also caused floods. More than 1.32 crore people in 18,374 villages were affected by the twin calamities that claimed 21 and 23 human lives respectively.
Again, the state witnessed another spell of floods following incessant rains in 13 districts during October 21-26, affecting 61.3 lakh people in 10,722 villages.
The state has sought central assistance of Rs 5,832.50 crore for relief and rehabilitation measures in the affected areas. An inter-ministerial central team is visiting the affected areas of the state including the Phailin-ravaged Ganjam and flood-hit Balasore districts to assess the damages. The state government, which observed Odisha Disaster Preparedness Day and National Day for Disaster Reduction today, said the government machinery had been continuously in touch with people, trying to upgrade the levels of awareness and skill to face disasters. “This has paid dividends and we could minimise the death toll this time,” said chief secretary J.K. Mohapatra.
The state aims to do this training programme on a pilot basis. It has been financed under the 13th Finance Commission grant for capacity building. The Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) has already conducted training programmes in seven colleges across the state (three in Kendrapara, two in Khurda, and one each in Bhadrak and Balasore districts). The training is being imparted by experts of the OSDMA and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force.
“The students are being given training on survival skills and first aid. At the end of the training, mock drills are being carried out,” said OSDMA deputy general manager (training and co-ordination) P.K. Nayak.