INTRODUCTION It has been observed during the last few decades that the State of Madhya Pradesh is prone to various kinds of disasters of recurrent nature. These disasters result in loss of life and property - public and private - and disrupt economic activity, besides causing immense misery and hardship to the affected population. It is felt that much of this is avoidable, or /and could be prevented and mitigated. A time has come to look at the disasters occurring in one or more parts of the State regularly, at more frequent intervals and to evolve a strategy for reducing their impact, and for giving assistance to the affected population. A timely and well-prepared action plan can save many lives and lots of property even at the time of sudden occurrence of a disaster, as the entire administrative machinery, and the community can be geared to the execution of a well laid out plan of action.
2. Disasters are of many types. The High Powered Committee (HPC) constituted by the Central Government has identified thirty-one disasters and grouped them in five categories. On the basis of available, data disasters frequently occurring in the State are as follows :
- Industrial and chemical disasters
Each disaster has a different character and therefore requires a different plan of action for prevention and mitigation. The management plan, similarly, calls for an event specific plan for preparedness, response and recovery, though there may be some commonalities.
3. Mitigation and management of disasters require a multi-disciplinary approach. Institutions, organizations and government agencies - at the center and state level - will be identified and involved in working out the strategy for prevention, mitigation and management of disasters.
4. At the State level, there shall be a committee under the Chairmanship of the Chief Minister to review the status of prevention, mitigation and management of each identified disaster, once in six months, during normal times. This committee will have Ministers of Revenue, Home, Finance, Forest, Irrigation and Flood Control, P.W.D., water resources and NVDA, Housing, Urban Development, Panchayat and Rural Development, Commerce and Industry and Public Health and Labour as members. This committee shall be known as the Cabinet Committee on Disaster Management. In the event of the occurrence of any disaster, specified or unspecified, this committee will meet as frequently as it may decide looking to the exigency of the situation.
5. A similar committee at the official level shall be constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary and will consist of the Principal Secretaries/ Secretaries of all the Departments indicated in para 4 and will meet as frequently as indicated therein.
6. Committees of similar nature will be established at the division and district level under the chairmanship of the divisional Commissioner and the district Collector respectively. All division level, or district level departmental officers, as the case may be, will be the member of this committee. These Committees will be responsible for the preparation of district and division level plan for prevention, mitigation and management of disaster with clearly laid down strategies for each disaster. The basic plan shall be prepared for each district with the division providing support and input where inter district coordination and action is called for. Commissioners will have the authority to attach officers from districts, for this purpose.
7. The Revenue Department of the State shall be the nodal agency for all types of disasters at the State level. At the state level, the Revenue Department will be the nodal department for all types of natural calamities. The Labour Department will be the nodal department for all industrial and chemical disasters, Public Health for epidemics. The Home Department will be the nodal department for all accidents and man-made disasters.
8. The Commissioner shall be the nodal agency for prevention, mitigation and management of disasters at the divisional level since action may be needed in more than one district. All officers of the State government departments, including the police, the home guard and the forest, shall work under his control, supervision and direction, during the period of a disaster so declared by the State government. Similarly, the activities of non-governmental or quasi-governmental agencies at the division level will be coordinated by him. At the division level, the Range IG/SAF DIG will be nominated as Deputy Chairman of the committees since forces are needed for search and rescue operations. Representatives of Army, Para-military forces, Railways, Telecom will be coopted in these committees. The Commissioners will start search, rescue and relief works immediately, without waiting for orders from the state government.
9. The Collector shall be the nodal officer for prevention, mitigation and management of disasters of all types at the district level. All State government officers, including the police, the home guard and the forest shall work under his control, supervision and direction during the period of a disaster. The activities of all non-governmental and quasi-governmental agencies in the district in so far as these relate to disasters will be coordinated by him. At the district level, the SP/Commandant will be nominated as Deputy Chairman of the committees since forces are needed for search and rescue operations. Representatives of Army, Para-military forces, Railways, Telecom will be coopted in these committees. The Collectors will start search, rescue and relief works immediately, without waiting for orders from the state government.
10. The district plan shall consist of two parts: the first part shall comprise of a comprehensive plan for prevention and mitigation, and the second part shall consist of preparedness, response and recovery. The district plan will necessarily incorporate a plan for generating community awareness and for training the community for disaster preparedness.
11. The district plan shall be deliberated upon and approved by the District Planning Committee ( DPC ). After the approval of the DPC the approval of the State government shall be obtained. Similarly, the Divisional Level Plan will be got approved by the state government.
12. The plan shall provide for the cooperation and active involvement of the non-governmental organizations and the community. It shall be given due publicity in the district. Suggestions received will be given due consideration and incorporated, wherever necessary.
13. The district plan will spell out the role of the media - electronic or otherwise -and the specific areas in which their cooperation would be solicited. Adequate warning systems will be established. All methods, private and public will be used. Ham Radio operators will be encouraged and listed by collectors, so that they can be used for passing information to the community.
14. The district plan shall spell out the strategy for mitigating the impact of disasters on women and children and the specific plan for giving them speedy relief.
15. Animals are equally affected by disasters of various types. They are important for ecology and environment , and thereby , for human existence. The district plan shall indicate the specific action that shall be taken to alleviate their distress during each type of disaster.
16. The State shall give the highest importance to the prevention and mitigation of various types of disasters specific to the State. The annual plan of economic and social development of each concerned department will incorporate it and give it a priority in the allocation of financial resources and ensure their implementation in a time bound manner. Where schemes need to be implemented over a period of time, these shall be included in the five year plan with clearly indicated priority. Inter-departmental schemes for mitigation of disasters will be apportioned resources and priority by the committee under the Chief Secretary.
17. Prevention and mitigation strategy has to be different for various types of disasters and requires to be indicated as specific points of action at the State and district level for each one of them.
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