Nagaland still ill-prepared to face major disaster

Nagaland still ill-prepared to face major disaster
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Kohima, April 26: Concerned over Nagaland being situated in earthquake prone Zone V, the Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA) has been successfully conducting mega mock drills through Nagaland Emergency Preparedness Exercise (NEPEx) creating awareness among the people on the safety measures, but the problems of communication and coordination and inaudible sirens alarm continues to be the major concerns.
NSDMA officials highlighted the problems during the debriefing after conducting the state-wide NEPEx today at State Emergency Operating Centre at Kezhiekie Lotha Hoho ki here.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) joint advisor, Dhirendra Singh Sindhu, who was here as the observer of the mock drill, said that the 1897 Shillong earthquake of 8.7 magnitude can cause immense destructions not only to the State of Nagaland but across northeast states.
Expressing his views on today’s observation, Sindhu said no State can be fully prepared for such kind of disasters, however, he maintained that it is how frequent we conduct such exercises that more awareness can be created among the masses on how to prepare themselves when disaster strikes.
Stating that it is the community who are the first responders in these exercises, Sindhu suggested that frequent exercises should be conducted in a proper way and opined that the State should come out with clear cut SOP and table top exercises.
He also opined that only through practice coordination among the various agencies can be done.
Advisor for Food & Civil Supplies, Legal Metrology & Consumer Protection and NSDMA, Pukhayi while appreciating all stakeholders for the successful conduct of the exercise reiterated the need for NSDMA to work a system to install sirens at strategic locations to be audible.
Pointing that majority of the population lives in rural areas, he stressed on the need to create more awareness among the rural populace in the coming days. He also assured that the next exercise will be better than this year’s exercise.
During the debriefing, Chief Secretary, Temjen Toy said the primary objective of the mock exercise was to see how ready the state is if a disaster is to actually happen and the lessons learnt as a result of the mock exercise.
Pointing out that traffic is one area of concern not only in times of disaster but even in normal circumstances, he was of the view that if a disaster happens the traffic confusion will be much more with panic people running helter skelter resulting in road blocks.
He asserted that traffic problems need to be looked into seriously and asked the traffic police to undertake a proper study in order to reduce traffic bottlenecks.
Toy also lamented that even after a lapse of one year, sirens have not been installed at appropriate locations as discussed and therefore directed the NSDMA to identify appropriate and strategic locations to install the sirens which will be used only in times of disaster in the future.
Another major concern, he pointed out, was the communication problem. Terming the communication system as ‘really bad’, Toy mentioned that they were not able to communicate with other districts and communications were down even within the vicinity of Kohima.
Asserting that this need to be examined so that there is free flow of information between all agencies, Toy directed NSDMA to look into this problem, upgrade its communication system and also the communication between the various agencies.
Also making an observation of the lack of communication and coordination between the State Emergency Operations Centre and staging areas, Toy said the channel of communication and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) need to be improved for taking decisions and making plans so that there is no confusion.
He also suggested working out a mechanism on how to utilise the resources that are available in the battalion headquarters in time of emergencies and also re-fuelling of the various transport that are on the run.
The Chief Secretary also reminded that NSDMA need to be prepared and ready with stock of body bags, stating that in real time checks in the town, it found out that while vendors have adequate number of coffins there were insufficient body bags in case of deaths if an actual disaster is to occur.