The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Disaster rap on Centre

New Delhi, Sept. 10 (PTI): Delhi High Court today expressed dissatisfaction over the manner in which the Centre was treating the issue of disaster management, saying it had not been able to finalise the agenda for a meeting of the national committee, set up under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.

“Will the agenda be finalised after any other disaster like the Gujarat earthquake' We want that a Gujarat-like situation is not repeated,” the court said, while allowing the government a week’s time to file a reply.

It directed additional Solicitor-General K.K. Sud to submit before September 18 reports of experts which had been taken into consideration by the Centre for fixing the agenda for the meeting of the National Committee of Disaster Management.

After Sud suggested that a directive be issued to the states as they have to deal with the situation on the ground, the court ruled it would have no hesitation in issuing directives to them once the Centre’s recommendations were finalised.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation on poor disaster management and the lack of safety measures in building plans against natural disasters.

A brief report submitted by the government said certain recommendations made by an earlier high-powered committee on disaster management in 1999 had been processed and divided in six categories.

Sud said the categories identified include recommendations already implemented, those to be forwarded to Central ministries and departments, issues to be dealt by the states, matters to be considered by the NCDM and those to be deliberated by the inter-ministerial group.

He said for finalising the agenda of the meeting, views of all political parties had been sought and the proposed draft had already been distributed among them. Once their responses are received, the agenda would be finalised and an appropriate action plan drawn by the government, he added.

The report also said the home ministry would deal with man-made disasters like industrial, nuclear, biological and chemical ones and suggest measures to strengthen the organisational structure.

While a special control room has been set up in the home ministry for round-the-clock monitoring of such events, four specialised search and rescue teams have been set up in the Central Industrial Security Force to deal with man-made disasters, it said. The personnel attached to these teams were undergoing specialised training with sophisticated equipment, the report added. All the states have been asked to set up similar teams for search and rescue operations, it said.

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