Talking to HT, relief commissioner L Venkateshwar Lu said, “Though the cell is functional but there are no experts to deal with natural calamities. We have decided to hire research scholars who have done specialised courses in earthquake, flood, fire and drought management from the premier institutes in the country as consultants. They will work as experts to handle the emergency services during natural calamities.”
A state revenue department officer said though there is a disaster management department but it’s running on paper only. The department becomes active when the districts located in Terai and Purvanchal regions are inundated with flood during monsoon. “Along with issuing directions to the district administration over organising relief and rescue work, the department collects data of the dead persons and property destroyed in the flood,” he said.
The plan to establish a disaster management authority with units in the divisional and district headquarters has also not started yet. Each district has to set up a disaster management cell under the chairmanship of district magistrates. In majority of the districts, cells are running in ad-hoc manner. The district magistrates are supposed to hold meetings of the various department cells to discuss the standard operating procedure during a natural calamity. But the meetings are called during emergency only otherwise the disaster management cells remain defunct, the revenue department officer said. The districts bordering Uttarakhand were inundated after spate in the river. The state government has to call the army for relief and rescue work in Saharanpur, Bijnor, Hapur, Lakhimpur Kheri and Pilibhit.
The district administration lacked machinery to handle the deluge what to say about the catastrophe of Uttarakhand magnitude. Revenue minister Ambika Chaudhary on Thursday expressed displeasure over the working of the disaster management cell. He directed the officials to equip the cell with human resource and monitor the relief and rescue work in disaster hit zone. Sources said a meeting of the state government officers was held under the chairmanship of chief secretary Javed Usmani to review the disaster management preparedness of the state. Expressing concern over the sloth working of the cell, Usmani told the officers to activate it to meet the natural calamity challenges.
Venkateshwar Lu said the disaster management cell was being geared up for the management of the natural disaster. The teachers of the National Institute of Disaster Management and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences would train our experts in dealing with the crisis. We have also decided to appoint a project officer and an accountant in each districts to handle the natural calamities, he said.