State Disaster Management Authority in slumber

It met only once since it was reconstituted in January

An offshoot of the Disaster Management Act passed by Parliament in 2005, the purpose of setting up the authority was to integrate the process of planning, coordinating and implementing measures during disasters like the flood havoc, which the districts of North Karnataka are facing now.

However, the present 11-member authority, constituted on January 3, has remained only on paper. Chief Minister Yeddyurappa is the ex-officio chairman of the authority, while Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy is the vice-chairman.

According to the Central Act, each state has to come out with a comprehensive State disaster management plan. The plan should include the vulnerability of different parts of the State to different forms of disasters, measures to be adopted for prevention and mitigation of disasters, besides developing a road map for capacity-building and preparedness measures. However, that is not to be in the State.

On their part, officials in the Revenue Department point out that the State has a disaster management plan based on the guidelines issued by the National Disaster Management Authority. This plan, they contend, has been put into effect during relief and rescue operations in the flood-affected districts.

However, the Act mandates that it is for the authority to finalise the plan which, among others, should also specify the roles and responsibilities of each department in responding to any threatening disaster or disaster situation.

Dr L S Gandhi Das, professor, Department of the Social Work, Bangalore University, who is also a member on the authority, said, “The plan cannot be only a document. It should be specific and time-bound, meeting the requirements of the State. The plan should be more than a crisis management strategy, and should be holistic and integrated in its approach”. 

Another member, requesting anonymity, said the State plan should be finalised only after consulting experts in the field of disaster management and having practical experience of disaster management. “The plan cannot be drawn by officials sitting in their office”, the member said.

For the record, natural disasters in the State are largely confined to famine and flood management. The geological faults in Deccan Plateau region and disasters in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttar Kannada due to tsunami and sea erosion are other risks faced by the State.

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