CAG comes down heavily on AP disaster management system

Following the Uttarakhand tragedy, preparedness of states to handle major natural disasters has gained renewed focus.

For technology-savvy Andhra Pradesh, the report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on its disaster readiness should be a shock if not a timely wake-up call for this monsoon.

Criticising the state government over its pathetic record, the CAG report describes AP’s preparedness as virtually “nil” and is in a shambles.

Despite constituting the state and district disaster management authorities as early as in November 2007, only three meetings were held until September 2012.

The disaster management plan was only in the drafting stage at the time of audit, the report noted.  

The delay has left the state poorly equipped with a coastal region exposed to cyclones, floods, quakes and droughts.  

Cyclones and floods in the last decade caused an estimated loss of Rs 44,765 crore to the state and killed 1,021 people.

The State Disaster Management Authority, constituted in 2007 under the Central Disaster Management Act with chief minister as chairman, remains dysfunctional, while District Disaster Management Authorities with collectors as chairpersons are in a state of paralysis, the CAG report said.

Nellore and East Godavari districts, both in the coastal belt, have so far prepared comprehensive disaster management plans.

Rescue shelters, particularly in cyclone- and flood-prone districts, are mostly in a dilapidated condition. Early warning systems installed in coastal districts and vital communication equipment like HAM radios and satellite phones are out of order.

The funds for the disaster management were either not released or utilised in time, or even diverted for other purposes. Of the total Rs 4,709.53 crore released from the State Disaster Response Fund between 2007 and 2012, utilisation certificates to the amount of Rs 4,024.38 crore were not submitted, reflecting the "extremely deficient financial management," the report pointed out.

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