NDMA ramps up efforts, says govt caught off-guard | india | Hindustan Times
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NDMA ramps up efforts, says govt caught off-guard

The government was caught off-guard and there was some delay in initiating relief and rescue measures as the local administration went missing, said National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) vice-chairperson MS Reddy. Chetan Chauhan reports.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2013 00:27 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The government was caught off-guard and there was some delay in initiating relief and rescue measures as the local administration went missing, said National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) vice-chairperson MS Reddy.

Speaking to HT, Reddy said as local administration was invisible in the hour of crisis, they had to “rush rescue personnel from other locations”. Bad weather in Dehradun and inaccessible roads also hampered the rescue operation.

“The first message came at 8.30pm on June 16. All the previous messages stated that the situation was normal. The personnel deployed for rescue took time to reach ground zero as roads were washed away and we had to wait for clear weather to utilise helicopter services,” he said.

Reddy was not categorical in stating that unplanned development in Uttarakhand accentuated the disaster but opined for restrictions on construction close to water-ways and respect for flood-plain management.

“We can blame unplanned development for the loss but one should not forget that four times natural rainfall poured in just 24 hours,” he added.

A big lesson learnt is that there should be an alert system for flash floods. The NDMA has already asked the Indian Meteorological Department and Central Water Commission officials, which say it is possible, to submit a proposal.

Reddy said there is a need to leverage science and technology for complete disaster management. “We need to change mindset of local authorities,” he said.

The authority will also be writing to the Uttarakhand government to put in place a system to regulate pilgrims visiting four dhams based on a carrying capability studies and similar to one for Amarnath Yatra.

He added the NDMA had been able to implement the disaster mitigation plans in Assam and Bihar and they have worked to reduce casualties.