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WHILE the National Disaster Management Authority ( NDMA) is in a state of inertia, state disaster management authorities ( SDMAs) are virtually non- functional. Despite several proposals for setting up of SDMA in all states for overlooking disaster management, the states have not responded.

Sources say barring Bihar, Gujarat and Orissa, no other state has a properly functional body at the state level to cope with disasters. Not a single state has set up State Disaster Response Force ( SDRF). State governments have been advised to spend about 10 per cent of the disaster response fund to train the disaster management force and purchase equipment meant for disaster management.

Even Uttarakhand, which is one of the most vulnerable states because of frequent landslides and cloudbursts, does not have a body for disaster management.

While there is a mitigation centre, the state has no resources or infrastructure to carry out disaster management.

According to the CAG report, till 2012 there were only seven states that had set up SDMA. Most of the northeastern states that are also prone to natural disasters do not have SDMA. Sources said response from most of the state governments has been lukewarm.

Whenever, there is a major disaster the first respondent which are the district and state authorities are not in a position to react due to lack of infrastructure and low level preparedness.

Even the National Disaster Response Force at the Centre has been ignored. Currently the force is without a director general and the ITBP chief Ajay Chadha is in charge. The NDRF, which was envisioned to be the nodal force for carrying out relief and rescue operations, is not well equipped to take on the challenges of tragedy like the one in Uttarakhand. The army and paramilitary forces remain the main force for operations in such tough conditions.

Currently, there are only 10 battalions in the force and two more are proposed, but that has been pending for a while.

One of the additional battalions was meant exclusively for Utttarakhand.

The CAG report on disaster management has pointed out the issues plaguing the force. Non- procurement of equipment, manpower management, poor infrastructure and deficient training were areas that need to be addressed.

Uttarakhand, one of the most vulnerable states because of landslides and cloudbursts, does not have a body for disaster response

Only eight states have prepared emergency action plans for 192 dams as against 4,728 dams in 29 states 59% of the Indian landmass is prone to earthquakes On an average, 72.25 lakh hectares of land in India is affected annually by floods

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jun 25, 2013
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