Azad Slams JK Govt’s ‘poor Response’

Azad Slams JK Govt’s ‘poor Response’

4 May 2013
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali

Srinagar: Union Minister for Health Ghulam Nabi Azad Saturday expressed displeasure over the State Government’s relief work in the earthquake-hit Chenab Valley that witnessed massive damage to property. “The State Government should have been alert (post earthquake) but the expected level of preparedness is not there,” Azad told reporters at the Srinagar International Airport here before leaving for New Delhi. He along with the vice-chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, Shashidhar Reddy had flown from Delhi to take stock of the situation in the quake-hit areas of Doda and Kishtwar. Azad asked the State Government to reach out to affected people and mobilise resources for rebuilding the damaged infrastructure. Azad, who hails from Bhaderwah, said due to fear people are spending nights in farms as aftershocks continued for past three days. One person was killed in Kishtiwar and over 80 others, mostly students, injured and scores of buildings damaged in areas of J&K when the earthquake of moderate intensity shook parts of North India on past Wednesday. Kishtwar and Doda districts in Chenab Valley of Jammu province were the worst hit. “The need of the hour is to reach out to the affected people (in Doda and Kishtwar) with relief and that is important,” Azad said. “The Government at the highest level should come forward to help people.” The Minister said Bhaderwah was the epicenter of the earthquake and more than 80 percent of the houses and the Government building including schools in two tehsils- Bado and Malisa- suffered worst damage. “A large number of houses have got raised to the ground, almost 80 percent of houses have developed cracks and thousands of houses have been declared unsafe for living,” Azad said. “This is not complete assessment as only one-fourth of the quake-hit areas have been reached so far to assess the damage.” He said the actual damage report to be prepared by the district administration would be completed by May 10. Azad said the Indian Red Cross Society of which he is a Chairman would at the outset distribute 1000 tents to people hit by the calamity. But he said as per the preliminary assessments made, there was need for 5000 to 10000 tents. “I am hopeful that state government and Centre will come forward to help people,” Azad said. The VC NDMA, Shashidhar Reddy said they would send a technical team for assessing the damage caused due to the quake in the Chenab Valley. JK HAS NO DISASTER MANAGEMENT PLAN: NDMA CHIEF Reddy said the State Government has failed to set up a Disaster Management Plan in earthquake vulnerable Jammu and Kashmir despite reminders in the past. “Many states including Jammu and Kashmir have not come up with the Plan so far,” Reddy told mediapersons at Srinagar International Airport here. He said many States including Jammu and Kashmir were asked to prepare the Disaster Management Plan some years ago. Kashmir is located in a zone of high seismic activity. While Srinagar falls in Seismic Zone-V (Very High Risk Zone) other parts of the region are located in Seismic Zone IV. In 2007 two prominent American seismologists who were on visit to Kashmir University warned that a major earthquake could rock Kashmir Valley anytime in next 50 years. “A major earthquake could hit this region in next 50 years and its epicenter could be Pir-panchal range, the earthquake would be four times bigger in impact that the one that hit Kashmir in October 2005,” noted seismologist Roger Biham of University of Colorado, United States, who has been studying earthquakes in Himalayan region for past 20 years, had said. He was accompanied by Dr Susan Hough of US Geological Survey, Pasadena California. Geological experts believe that the State Government has failed to learn a lesson from the devastating earthquake of October 8, 2005, which claimed over 80000 lives on both sides of Kashmir. After the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, the State Government installed two seismic centers one at Jammu and another at Gulmarg in Kashmir in 2003 but these centers failed to provide desired seismic data and proved as a flop show. Geological experts have long maintained that the location of the Kashmir in volatile seismic zone warrants that there was an urgent need to analyze the risks and make a vulnerability assessment in the whole state in general and the most densely populated urban centers in particular.