Need to keep vigil to mitigate disasters, says Chief Secretary

Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 5

There is need to keep a constant vigil and ensure readiness to mitigate disasters, said Chief Secretary Anil Khachi today while chairing the 14th meeting of the State Executive Committee (SEC) under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 here.

“People should be made aware about the preparedness during such hazardous situations and mock exercises should be conducted once the Covid-19 crisis eases,” he said. He advised the Disaster Management Cell to explore the possibility of conducting training through the online mode.

Khachi said, “Himachal Pradesh is prone to various hazards, both natural and man-made, such as earthquakes, landslides, flash floods, snow avalanches, droughts, domestic and wild fires, road accidents, stampede, etc. However, the hazard that poses the biggest threat is earthquake, as the state has felt more than 80 tremors of the magnitude of 4 degree and above on the Richter scale”.

The Chief Secretary said that of damage to infrastructure and essential facilities, communication was the first casualty and a strong independent communication system should be set up to meet emergencies, keeping in view the tough geographical conditions of the state. He added that a wireless communication network through amateur radio (HAM) was one of the most effective and alternative mediums of communication, which could play a significant role in providing reliable communication when other systems fail.

He said that the state government had notified the raising of the Himachal Pradesh State Disaster Response Force in January. He added that as approved by the state Cabinet, till the raising of the separate force, one company strength each drawn from the HP Police would be stationed at Shimla, Mandi and Dharamsala.

Khachi said that Rs 5 crore had been sanctioned to the Police Department to equip the SDRF. He added that school and college buildings should be strengthened, as they were the most useful lifeline structures during disasters. A safety audit of the lifeline buildings should also be done, and measures should be taken for their retrofitting.

He said that an Associate Professor of the Department of Earth Sciences at the IIT, Roorkee, had sent a proposal to the government for establishing an earthquake early warning system in the state, which needs to be discussed in detail.

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