Mock drill drives home the point


By: Parul Sood
Shimla: Time and again Himachal Pradesh has fallen victim to natural disasters (some even man-made) of great proportions and each time the immediate reaction has been that of utter helplessness. The defeatist attitude is reflected in the fact that subsequent state governments have failed to lay stress on having a concrete disaster management policy. Maybe, the reason being that the state is quite sure the Central government would always be there in its hour of crisis.

The shattering earthquakes, flash floods, massive landslides, forest fires, etc, are all very powerful modes of destruction for sure and leave little time to react. But little bit of preparedness can certainly help reduce loss of life at least. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is a nodal agency involved in preparing government agencies and people to deal with eventualities, and was here in Shimla on Saturday to hold a mock drill demonstrating evacuation of victims in case of emergency caused by an earthquake.
Seismic activity in Himachal Pradesh is considered to be very sensitive as it falls in zone five and four as per the seismic zoning map of India. During the last century the state was shaken up by a number of micro and macro earthquakes. The most prominent being the Kangra earthquake (1905) in which approximately 18,815 people lost their lives. As per the earthquake hazard map of the state, the areas falling in district Chamba, Kangra, Mandi, Kullu, Hamirpur, Bilaspur and Una are very sensitive.

Natural disasters cannot be avoided, but an effective management afterwards can save a lot of causalities. There are four main components of comprehensive emergency management preparedness – response-rescue and relief operations, recovery-rehabilitation and reconstruction activities. As a measure for earthquake risk reduction, certain long, short and medium plans can be incorporated. The various activities taken up as long-term measures for earthquake disaster management include reframing of the building codes, manuals and byelaws and their proper implementation. Stricter legislation is also required for highly seismic areas in this regard. Above all, buildings in the area should incorporate earthquake resistant features; in addition the public utilities like water supply system, communication network, electricity lines, etc must be earthquake proof to reduce damages to the infrastructure facilities, alternative arrangement for the same must be developed. However, we see that nothing is being implemented in the state, except for some medium term measures like generating awareness regarding dos and don’ts during earthquakes.

Brigadier BK Khanna, a trainer with the National Disaster Management Authority, who was here in connection with the mock drill, held that the need of the hour is to build buildings both in private as well as government sector according to building codes specified for such sensitive areas. He said that Himachal should send a proposal to the Centre for assistance on the front. But the fact being that a very casual approach is followed while allotting NOCs to structures violating norms.

Experts said that the mock drill was definitely a healthy step in this regard, but the entire effort would go in vain if the government continues to show indifference towards building violations. Extreme examples of such unruly constructions going on are that of Sanjauli and symmetry areas in Shimla where due to very narrows passages it is even very difficult to reach out in the locality. A big question that now lies in front of all of us is the fact that god forbids if ever a disaster like an earthquake happens who will owe the responsibility of these illegal structures that might not take even few seconds to slither like playing cards. It is high time the authorities wake, or else there would be no time to even regret.

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  1. I only hope like “BHEDIYE KI KAHANI” this doesn’t turn out 2 b ‘disastrous management’ as in d case of 26/7 deluge in Mumbai!

  2. ADDENDUM…In my experience i’ve come across only 1 school in d entire town where there is a specific spot fr stu’s 2 gather in case…called Eartquake Pt. Is adm paying any att 2 this!? Prevention is better than cure.Do they need 2 go back 2 d school!!

  3. No sir not only St. Thomas along with it the schools that have a sign bord telling them where to assemble if an earthquake occurs are Govt. Sr. Sec School Chotta Shimla, Central School For Tibetians chiotta Shimla, Goverment Sr. Sec. School Sanjauli, Govt High School Chaura Maidain. The students and the school teachers are trained on distaster prepardness.Infact a Mock Drill has been conducted in all of the schools.

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