The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 10 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gogoi stresses response training

- State Disaster management authority holds sensitisation workshop

April 9: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today emphasised the need for more awareness among the people to effectively mitigate the impact of a disaster, natural or man-made.

He said institution of a state disaster response force and conducting more mock drills to train people on ways to respond to a disaster was the need of the hour.

Gogoi was speaking at a sensitisation workshop organised by the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) in the city today.

Revenue minister Prithibi Majhi and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) vice-chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy were also present on the occasion.

“A natural disaster can strike any moment. Despite developments in science and technology, the exact time when a calamity may occur cannot be predicted. But we can definitely take the required precautions so that we can reduce the suffering and hardships associated with a disaster. To reduce the toll on human life and property, we have to respond immediately to a disaster. For this, we have to conduct mock drills for students, teachers as well as other people to prepare them to shield themselves from harm when disaster strikes. A State Disaster Response Force should also be formed on the lines of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to handle disasters in a specialised and well-resourced manner,” Gogoi said.

“Every year, our state, as well as the city, witnesses floods, which have a devastating effect on human life and property. We should learn from our past experiences and take measures so that we successfully reduce the magnitude of damage caused by floods and earthquakes in future. Every year, before the floods, the state government arranges adequate number of boats to rescue the victims and also keeps sufficient stocks of medicine and edibles to distribute among them,” the chief minister added.

The workshop concentrated on focusing of minimising the impact of a disaster. The city and the Northeast are in seismic zone V, which is considered to be the zone with the highest seismic activity. Hence, a high magnitude earthquake may result in much devastation in the region.

M. Shashidhar Reddy said, “To handle any disaster well, we have to concentrate on different aspects like prevention, rescue and medication of victims, their rehabilitation and construction of damaged property. There also has to be a system in place whereby a follow-up can be carried out in the post-disaster phase. Since the state is particularly vulnerable to floods and earthquakes, a pilot project has been implemented in North Lakhimpur for issuing early warning in case of a natural calamity. A well-trained state disaster response force is a must, as such a force is well versed in handling disasters and rescuing victims. In fact, the NDRF has played a key role in rescuing victims of natural disasters across the country. During the past four-five years, it has been deployed in Assam several times.”

In the meantime, experts also considered faulty construction of buildings to be equally, if not more, responsible for loss of lives than a natural disaster itself. The massive earthquake that rocked Sikkim last year was cited as an example in this regard.

“When we visited Sikkim after the earthquake last year, we found that the concrete buildings were not constructed in a manner that they could withstand earthquakes. People should see to it that buildings are constructed well, keeping in mind the possibility of such a disaster,” Reddy said.