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Mock drill exposes real issues

delhi Updated: Feb 16, 2012 01:41 IST
Rajat Arora
Rajat Arora
Hindustan Times
disaster management mock drill

The mega mock drill - the first of its kind in India - began with a few hiccups. A situation where an earthquake had led to collapse of buildings, disruptions in Metro service, traffic collisions and fire incidents, was enacted at several locations across Delhi.

While at some places ambulances were not able to reach on time despite prior notice, at other places the fire brigade took more than the usual time to arrive.

Despite all the loopholes, however, the drill proved successful in making people aware about disaster management.

The drill, which started at 11.30am and continued till 1pm, was conducted at around 1,000 points, including 400 major locations across Delhi. Hundreds of buildings were evacuated and several flyovers in the Capital were closed for traffic movement for around an hour.

The result was traffic congestion across the city. The Metro were shut down for 21 minutes, but the spill-over effect ensured that the service remained affected throughout the day.

The drill also exposed loopholes of several agencies.

The health department, being the slowest, did not respond on time and ambulances and first-aid teams took their own time to reach the spots. The fire department also seemed inadequately prepared and lacked the sophisticated equipment that could help save lives in case a high-rise building was on fire.

"The sky-lift available with the fire department can only go up to 12 floors, whereas many buildings in Delhi, including the MCD civic centre, have more than 20 floors. In case of a fire in a building like the civic centre, we can only reach the top floors through the stairs," said a senior Delhi fire service official.

The fire scene was enacted at the MCD civic centre, which ironically still has not received the no objection certificate from the fire department.

"Even the health staff is not trained properly. They are just bundling people into vans. Medically, this can add to their injuries," said a senior doctor, who had come to participate in the drill, with his kids.

Mega mock drill in pics

The Delhi chief minister, however, claimed that this is just the beginning, and it would take some time for things to fall into place.

"This is the first time that a mega mock drill was conducted in the Capital. The disaster management process can't be successful until people come forward to participate," said Sheila Dikshit, Delhi CM.

According to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) around one lakh people participated in the drill and more than 2000 calls were made to their helpline number - 1077.