Empower locals to deal with natural disasters: Scientists

Suggest Centre to frame new policy for management of calamities

Dipender Manta

Tribune News Service

Mandi, July 13

Experts of GB Pant National Institute for Himalayan Environment, Government of India, said to reduce the drastic impact of natural disasters in the Himalayan region, there was a need to empower local communities to deal with these effectively.

After a thorough study on the Himalayan region regarding natural disasters, the institute authorities have suggested to the Centre to frame a new policy for disaster management in which local communities will be included fully.

It is a partnership product of Indian, Canadian and UK universities, jointly led by India’s GB National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Bath Spa University in the UK, that researched collectively on how to reduce the risk of disaster to communities in the Himalayan region.

JC Kuniyal, a scientist of the GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment, said, “During a natural disaster, whether it is an earthquake, a cloudburst, flash flood or fire, residents remain dependent on government machinery for their rescue. During such situations, communication services get snapped and sometimes roads get cut off, which takes a long time for the government machinery to get access of the area to overcome the situation.”

“The delay in response definitely accelerates the impact of natural disaster on local communities. A research was also conducted in the Kullu region at Fozal village, which had witnessed a cloudburst. It was observed that there is a need to empower and train local communities to deal with natural disaster-like situations effectively to save human life,” he said.

Kuniyal said sub-national plans should be revised to accelerate local capacity development for disaster risk reduction. The plans should include a dedicated section on Village Disaster Management Committees, detailing their purpose and the intended roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders.

RS Rawal, Director of GB Pant National Institute for Himalayan Environment, appreciated the collective research work. He said it would pave the way for the Union Government to frame a new policy for the purpose.

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