J&K disaster management plan on paper only

Despite adopting the State Disaster Management Plan more than a year ago, the Jammu and Kashmir government has failed to devise an effective system to respond to natural and manmade calamities.

Sources told Deccan Herald that a proposal to have a “full-fledged and self-responsive” State Disaster Management Authority in J&K to cope with natural or manmade disasters remained confined to papers. 

They said only divisional and district level committees were formed without proper structure and planning.

“Even after more than a year after its constitution the state authority continues to work as a kind of government committee instead of a full-fledged autonomous body with proper infrastructure and staff,” said a source.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in its recent memo described the current trend of constructions across the state as “alarming”. 

The national authority said the J&K government has failed to come up with a state disaster management plan despite scores of reminders from the central body. 

“Only 19 states in the country have a mandatory state disaster management plan and J&K is among the defaulters. We have not received any disaster management plan from J&K,” a document by the national authority said.

“All states need to be proactive in preparing disaster management plans as comprehensive planning will help during natural or manmade disaster,” it said, adding that there is an urgent need to change the focus and mindset of people and the government towards disaster management and preparedness.

The authorities in J&K have not learnt any lesson from past failures to deal with situations arising from natural disasters. The state falls in the highly active seismic Zones IV and V.

“The state government is just concentrating on ad hoc measures. It lacks a disaster management policy and there is no command and control structure to respond to any eventuality.
 Even some states that are less vulnerable to natural disasters have already put such a mechanism in place,” National Disaster Management Authority Vice Chairman Shashidhar Reddy had earlier said. 

Reddy had gone to Doda  with Union Cabinet Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad after an earthquake hit the area last year.

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