The tragedy in Uttarakhand and the quick response to it is a lesson in disaster management. But Delhi seems to be learning little from it.
A year ago, the Delhi government had purchased 11 quick response vehicles which were to reach any disaster spot first and provide first-aid. But none of the vehicles are being used for their true purpose; many are lying idle.The reason for their current position is because they are yet to be fitted with disaster management equipment and medical facilities. Tenders were floated for a firm which could fit such equipment in these vehicles, but there was no response. The government again floated tenders and only one firm was selected. Even after that, nothing happened on this front.
“The file was with the finance department for final clearance. It has been approved now and the company will start work on fitting the equipment soon,” said a senior government official.
These vehicles were supposed to act as first responders, especially in narrow and congested areas where it is difficult for fire tenders to reach.
“We are planning to buy more such vehicles to ensure they can cover several areas,” said Dharam Pal, chief of Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).
The private company which has been awarded the tender will install several disaster management-related equipment, including life detection machines, which can be used during any building collapse to find out if anyone is buried under the debris, hand-held fire extinguishers, smoke masks among others.
“These vehicles are currently being used for official work as they could not be used for disaster management purpose. Now that a firm has been finalised, the vehicles will be used for emergency purposes only,” added the official.
The department is planning to rope in civil defence volunteers to operate these vehicles. “There will be no need to hire drivers or creating a separate post for them. These vehicles will be manned by civil defence volunteers, who are trained drivers and know how to administer first-aid and handle disaster management tools,” added the official.
In case of an emergency, one can dial the helpline of DDMA (1077) and these vehicles will rush to the spot.