JK without disaster management authority

Wasim Khalid

Srinagar: In spite of two back-to-back floods, a devastating earthquake a decade ago and a vulnerable geography, Jammu and Kashmir is yet to have a Disaster Management Authority, which would make people aware and prepare them for disasters.
“Every state in India has one,” said Chandra Bhushan, Centre for Science and Environment deputy director general and the head of its climate change team.
Bhushan said the state government has designated deputy commissioner in each district to handle disaster situations in their respective areas.
Ideally, a DMA in each district coordinates relief and rescue efforts, prepares people for facing a disaster situation, while processes and managing information regarding a calamity.
“A district collector can’t deal with so many things,” Bhushan said.
A disaster management cell, which was created in 2006 in the wake of 2005 earthquake, was wound up three years later.
The cell was sponsored by the United Nation Development Project for urban earthquake vulnerability. Under this programme, two offices were set up in Jammu and Srinagar. People were made aware and given training in disaster preparedness.
“There are no funds available for the disaster preparedness activities. Deputy commissioners hardly pay any attention to such activities. They don’t think such activities are important,” said a former senior official, who was associated with the UN project.
Relief and rehabilitation minister Basharat Bukhari said a consultancy had been asked to suggest plans to revive the disaster management cell.
“We have received the plan and are now examining it. If we think more needs to be done, then we will make the changes. After that it would be presented before the cabinet for approval. We would do it soon. We need such an authority at the earliest,” Bukhari said.