58% deficient rain: Was a flood helpline necessary? | punjab$patiala | Hindustan Times
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58% deficient rain: Was a flood helpline necessary?

punjab Updated: Sep 30, 2016 15:27 IST
Harinder Singh Khaira
Harinder Singh Khaira
Hindustan Times
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This monsoon, volume of water in seasonal rivers and drains remained under control. (HT File Photo )

For all its preparedness, the flood control room set up on June 1 till September 30 might as well complete its tenure without a single call after the district received less rainfall as compared to earlier seasons. The control room was set up to tackle flood-like situations across the district.

This monsoon, the volume of water in seasonal rivers and drains remained under control that minimised the chances of any calamitous event in the region.

The meteorological department also predicted less rainfall. With these weather inputs in hand, the administration could have done well by saving manpower and capital.

Operational despite staff crunch

According to sources, around 40 posts of clerical staff and about 50 posts of class IV employees are lying vacant with the district administration. The control room was installed inside room number 113 in Block A of the mini secretariat and was operational throughout the day with the assistance of a clerk and class IV employee.

Despite staff shortage, two employees were made available at the control room in two shifts.

The staff crunch turned acute when contractual staff of the Suwidha Centres went on strike on September 7. Sources said employees from various departments were scheduled for duty at the control room.

“If the officials were aware of the rainfall data in the district, they could have kept the timings routine instead of a 24x7 helpline. It would have saved manpower, especially when the contractual staff went on strike,” said an employee of the DC office.

He added that the administration was already facing an acute shortage and such mismanagement added to the chaos.

‘Can’t take chances with natural calamities’

Senior officials only rang up sometimes to know the status of the staff who were present to handle the situation.

However, Mukesh Kumar, district revenue officer and in charge of the control room, said, “It is an emergency service and we cannot take any chances because a flood is a natural calamity which can even occur overnight.”

He added that the control room was set up for immediate information of a flood-like situation in the region and timely input would have helped the administration tackle the situation without major loss.

Much less rainfall this year

According to a report from the meteorological department, the district received 58% less rainfall as compared to last year. While last year rainfall recorded was 571mm, this year it was 240mm.

In previous years, there was abundant rain in the district with 503mm in 2013 and 395mm in 2014.