The Himachal Pradesh Government has prepared ‘Himachal Pradesh Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness Program’ with an allocation of Rs. 890 crore in collaboration with the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), a French Development Agency from April 2024, extending for a period of five years to bolster disaster preparedness and climate resilience.
“The primary goal of this initiative is to usher in a comprehensive approach to disaster and climate risk reduction. This would involve fortifying infrastructure to withstand the disasters and enhancing governance structures. This is the high time to address climate change’s escalating threat and the need to take proactive measures,” said Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.
The comprehensive five-year plan entails several key components, with a primary focus on enhancing disaster risk governance. This involves augmenting institutional capabilities, intensifying understanding of risks and bolstering knowledge management. Another vital aspect of this programme is the reinforcement of disaster preparedness, which will involve the establishment of effective early warning systems and the enhancement of emergency response capabilities.
A significant chunk of the program’s resources will be directed towards mitigation measures, including eco-Disaster Risk Reduction (eco-DRR) and nature-based solutions. To ensure effective implementation, various departments aligned with climate change mitigation will receive dedicated funding.
It is proposed to establish the State Institute for Disaster Management, along with strengthening the Himachal Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (HPSDMA) and District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs). Additionally, the plan encompasses the creation of a State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and district-level EOCs. Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA) at the village level for all river basins, coupled with the establishment of a Special Disaster Response Force (SDRF) Company at Kangra.
Further initiatives include the development of early warning systems for landslides, flash floods, cloudbursts, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), and dam safety. Improving networks for flood forecasting and introducing a GIS-based Decision Support System are other facets of the project.
To address the increasing threat of forest fires, the proposed program outlines strategies for implementing forest fire mitigation measures. It also proposes the establishment of fire stations in previously underserved locations, equipped with necessary tools and vehicles. Moreover, the plan aims to enhance the capabilities of three existing fire stations to handle Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) emergencies.
Apart from this, the project encompasses landslide mitigation and the stabilization of vulnerable landslide sites.
The program’s multi-faceted strategies hold the potential to foster a more resilient and prepared Himachal in the face of environmental challenges, said Sh. Sukhu.