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Community buffer on anvil for disasters

Ranchi, May 11: Jharkhand will be better equipped to fight calamities if a plan of the disaster management department works.

The department will soon choose resource organisations in all the 24 districts of the state in order to encourage people participation in times of exigencies.

The move — touted as the first major step to engage those at the grassroots — includes roping in NGOs and specialised agencies who will in turn form community-level response teams.

On Saturday, disaster management boss already asked voluntary organisations and private agencies to apply before May 26.

Officials maintained that the organisations must have minimum two years of experience in the field and should not be involved in any litigation. Outfits that have been blacklisted by the government in the past will not be considered, they stressed.

According to department under secretary Thomas Dungdung, the district resource organisations would be made responsible for all disaster-related work at the ground level.

“Though these organisations will be under the district authorities, they will share more responsibility and have greater scope,” he said.

Colonel Sanjay Srivastava, the special projects officer posted at the disaster management department, explained how the initiative would help them prepare better.

“When a disaster strikes, it affects everyone — from the top to the bottom. Therefore, it is very important to spread the message of preparedness and sensitivity to the last mile. For this, we need community participation. That is the reason why we have now decided to look towards private partners who have the ability to reach out to more number of people,” he said.

Srivastava added that once they formed the resource organisations in every district, their job would be manifold.

“Spreading awareness about disaster trends and threats will obviously be the main task, but primarily they will be responsible to create response teams at the lowest level. During disasters, communities get affected first and hence prompt response at such times becomes crucial to minimising damage. The entire exercise is to incorporate the aam aadmi into the management system,” said the special projects officer.

Srivastava added that the state-level disaster management plan had been drafted in 2011, almost a decade after the disaster management wing came up in 2000.

Along with this, all the districts were supposed to come up with their individual disaster management plans.

“Some districts have their plans ready, but many are still lagging behind. Also, some of the plans have several loopholes. So, we recently brought on board experts from IIM-Ranchi to collaborate with every district and help them in every aspect of planning, training and other jobs,” he said, adding that they were yet to decide on the number of NGOs to be roped in.

“The more the merrier it is in this case,” he added.