Our attitude to safety is disastrousSunita Narain, Environmentalist and Political ActivistNatural disasters strike without notice. Many similar projects had been initiated after 2005 when the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was established. The nodal agency for disaster management failed to ensure that the mission aimed at disaster forecasting is expedited.
The track record of Uttarakhand, which is among the states vulnerable to natural disasters, was particularly abysmal. The body also failed miserably in implementing its own projects such as the National Disaster Management Informatics System and National Disaster Communication Network. Former chief executive officer (CEO) of '108' Emergency Response Services in Uttarakhand, Anup Nautiyal said disasters are not new to Uttarakhand and a system for disaster forecasting has always been the need of the hour.


The Department of Space, which is with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had approved a disaster management programme in 2003 and despite Rs 112 crore pumped in for various components of disaster forecasting, the project has been put in cold storage. Shashidhar Reddy has blamed the Met office for not giving accurate forecasts instead of using generic terms such as heavy rainfall in Uttarakhand.But the NDMA chief has done little - despite being associated with the body since 2005 - to ensure that warning systems for disaster forecast are put in place.
The disaster management programme aimed at providing quick support and services by using hitech systems. This included creating of a digital database to identify hazard zones, damage assessment, monitoring natural disasters using satellite and aerial data, establishing satellite-based reliable communication network and deployment of emergency communication equipment. The main project of the programme included National Database for Emergency Management, airborne laser terrain mapping and digital camera system, disaster management synthetic aperture radar, satellite-based communication network for disaster management and Doppler weather radars. But there was none.Disaster management demands, firstly, scientific knowledge to understand and map our vulnerability.


Until the next disaster strikes, agencies like the NDMA will temporarily shift gears to talk about the need for better preparedness and coordination. This is our real tragedy.We advise, train, make a differenceSujata Sainik, Adviser and Joint Secretary, National Disaster Management AuthorityIn case of a disaster or an emergency, before any government machinery or outside help is galvanised, it is the community which has to respond immediately.
When a major disaster strikes, receptivity increases, but no one listens when it is a return to normality.



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