Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Casual DMA

We have disaster management authority at the State, District and sub-divisional levels to deal with any disaster. Not only handling and conducting available resources, but organizing, owning and sharing responsibilities and dealing ably with emergencies comprise the multifarious commitments and duties of the disaster management authority. Either such an authority should be increasingly tenacious, resolute and decisive or it is better not to have one just for name sake, because what is to be dealt with are unforeseen contingencies, unexpected and uninformed. What is needed under such circumstances is a blend of full preparedness all the time, followed by a befitting response at the shortest possible time of intimation of occurrence of any emergency and the recovery and salvaging process, the stress being on how to lessen and dilute the impact, jolt and the concussion. It is indeed unfortunate that the disaster management authority in Nagaland, in comparison, has not come up to reasonable expectations as there seems to be no spark and organisational acumen in the entire structure of disaster management, relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction departments. Could any amount of complacency or lackadaisical approach, under any circumstances, be afforded in management of a happening in which there was absolutely no human intervention possible to prevent but which could be responded to and dealt with professionally and efficiently to provide succour, relief, rehabilitation and healing to the victims? Earthquakes, floods, landslides, storms, etc never give prior information and warnings and in that case, even the outbreak of epidemics. Any amount of compromise with preparedness or in organising professional management of disasters in arranging relief and help would spell doom and loss of phenomenal proportion. Remember last year we were caught off guards by nature’s fury. A few millimetres of rain, and there were roadblocks, landslides, etc. throwing the State and our life out of gear. National Highway-29 between State capital Kohima and Dimapur and to Imphal remained cut off due to landslides/sinking. Landslides in other parts of the State totally cut off many districts, towns and villages, forcing the State to seek IAF choppers to drop rations and medicines in remote districts and villages. This year also the road between Kohima and Dimapur, which is under construction, is slowly becoming un-motorable with the first signs of rains, and sinking of the newly paved roads near Kohima is clearly visible with no signs of authorities taking up works to prevent further sinking. Earlier in May this year, the State Government had a monsoon preparedness meeting in order to get prepared to avoid a repeat of last year’s mishap, but the meeting apparently concluded in good faith that the State to be prepared for this year’s monsoon only need to organize a one-day mass social work to clear drains, etc. and after doing the mass social work no misfortune will befall us this monsoon. The State conducted the mass social work in mid-May amidst much fanfare and publicity, but with the first drop of rains falling since the beginning of June, our roads have now become unpliable and landslides in some stretches along the Kohima-Dimapur route is already visible. The condition in interior parts of the State is likely to be worse. The sad part is no information is coming forth from the DMA on the status, review and progress on how to tackle any natural disaster this monsoon. Whether guidelines laid down, if any, have been revisited in regard to their appraisal and applicability and improvement as also any information about disaster management plan (if any) prepared by the line departments of the State, no exact information is available. In other words, we have to keep our fingers crossed about how under such a scenario could it be expected that any unforeseen contingency could efficiently be handled. Here it needs no reminder that our State has a unique setting in terms of geographical and climatic conditions and its vulnerability to various natural upheavals cannot be foreseen and predicted even remotely. That being a hard fact calls for more attention and fool proof preparedness by the concerned departments, all under the disaster management authority, but the critical assessment of the entire gamut of things only points to a casual approach spelling disappointment.