Even as the flood plays havoc in different districts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the state’s departments responsible for disaster management were caught off guard by the untimely downpour.
“Usually the flood control measures like establishment of posts and maintenance of embankments are completed by the end of June,” admitted an irrigation department engineer, while hoping the river basin area of Ganga, Yamuna, Ghaghra, Sharda, Rapti and Gandak do not continue to receive heavy rainfall.
However, the early arrival of monsoon can’t be alone blamed for the damages in the flood-hit districts.
Records suggest that chief secretary Javed Usmani had shot off a letter to divisional commissioners, district magistrates, irrigation department and revenue department officials directing them to start working on flood control and natural calamity management as early as on March 13. “Monsoon usually arrive in UP in June and learning from the past experiences, the work on flood control management and relief should have been completed much before the onset of rainy season,” Usmani had written.
Drawing the attention of the officers toward the section 39 of the national disaster management act, Usmani had said that it was the responsibility of the various state government departments to take measures necessary for prevention of disaster, mitigation, preparedness and capacity building in accordance with the guideline laid down by the national authority as well as the state authority.
Relief commissioner L Venkateshwar Lu too had shot off a letter to the district administration in March drawing their attention to the chief secretary’s instruction. The officers of the flood prone districts were told to complete the preparations for relief, evacuation, rescue, temporary shelters, etc before the start of the rainy season.
“The state government has already released Rs 576 crore for the flood control measure,” said a revenue department officer while admitting that majority of the work has not been completed yet.
Now, to provide immediate relief to the natural disaster victims, the state government has directed the district administration officials to set up a district disaster centre in respective districts. These centres will be equipped with ambulance, doctors, life saving drugs, medical instruments and other facilities required to reach the disaster-hit areas and launch rescue operations.
All the DMs have been directed to prepare a detail strategy for the disaster management and to update the district disaster management plan. They have also been directed to constitute a disaster management committee and activate a toll free telephone number so that people could contact the nodal officers and inform them about such mishaps. “But, the plan is working on paper only,” admitted an officer much to the chagrin of those who are paying the price of such official neglect.