With the monsoon on the verge of onset in Himachal Pradesh, the concern of the state is that not even a single life should be lost due to the lack of preparedness or delay in action. This was stated here today by Principal Secretary, Revenue, Onkar Chand Sharma during a meeting organized by the disaster management cell on the preparedness for the impending monsoon season in which all the deputy commissioners were also linked virtually.
While presiding over the meeting, he stated that real-time information, which is reliable and actionable, can aid in quickening the responses at the time of emergency situations.
The meeting laid stress on the accumulation and dissemination of real-time information regarding the rise or drop in the water level of water bodies and dams, earthquakes, cloud bursts, lightning, and other natural disasters can prove vital in preventing loss of lives, properties, and other valuables.
The Principal Secretary focused on the use of modern-day technologies, especially SACHET app developed by the National Disaster Management Authority, to get localized information that is updated regularly with accurate information. SACHET app provides weather related alerts on time and also guides about do’s and don’ts in a particular state of emergency at a particular place and time.
He also directed the concerned departments and officials to work in tandem with dam, power plant and river management authorities to get timely information regarding rise or drop in river level, landslides and release of water from the dams so that the to-be-affected areas could be identified and preparedness level be tested and response teams be alerted. He also directed the district administrations to keep a check on illegal mining, especially on riverbeds, as this erosion causes breakages of roads and landslides leading to fatal accidents.
O.C. Sharma said that it has been observed that during the monsoon collapse of bridges and roads, flooding of drinking water schemes, breakage of water pipes, electricity wires and poles hinder the transportation, supply of drinking water and electricity outage at places. He directed the concerned departments to keep note of the areas vulnerable to such damages and act early and swiftly to minimize the risks. He also asked the departments to make sure that the drains are clear and machines required are available and properly serviced for deployment at nearby risk-prone areas.
It was also discussed that small dams in the state should also be brought under the ambit of the Dams Safety Act, 2021, and in the future construction should be carried as per the procedures laid under the Act.
The Principal Secretary stated that apart from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Home Guards and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel, there are over 15,000 ‘Apda Mitra‘ and state volunteers in the state to assist in any emergent situation. He added that the monsoon season calls for the presence of alert teams across Himachal that are fully equipped with sufficient and modern equipment. He further said that in order to ensure the availability of trained troops, the Apda Mitra and other volunteers should be provided with frequent training and workshops. Additionally, safety programs and mock drills should be conducted by NDRF and SDRF in schools and public places to raise awareness and check preparedness.
O.C. Sharma said that there should be no delay in providing aids, grants, and relief fund benefits to the affected and needy people. He directed the officers to clear any backlogs in this regard. The areas prone to risks must also ensure advance stocking of food items, blankets, sleeping bags, water storage tanks and fogging machines to cater to the needs at the time of emergency.
During the meeting, the District Commissioners were asked to feed and constantly update data entries on National Disaster Management Information System (NDMIS) for smooth functioning of financial matters.
Director and Special Secretary, Disaster Management, D.C. Rana, Director, Indian Meteorological Department, Director, Central Water Commission, Shimla, Director Energy, senior officials of NDRF, SDRF, ITBP, Home Guards were present at the meeting, whereas, District Commissioners of all districts joined the meeting virtually.