State Sleeps Over NDMC Warning

State Sleeps Over NDMC Warning

22 June 2013
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Bismah Malik

Srinagar: The state is ill-equipped to deal with natural disasters such as the Uttarakhand flash floods. As a part of the Himalayan range along with Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the state is equally prone to such disasters, say environmentalists. There is no disaster management plan for the region to deal with calamities like earthquakes, floods, landslides, cloud bursts or snow storms. None of the 22 districts of the state has prepared its district disaster management plan. This has delayed the formulation of a state-level disaster management plan. Nadeem Qadri, an environment law expert said the district magistrates in all 22 districts were supposed to prepare their respective disaster-management plans but the same has not been done. “There were strict suggestions from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) last year that the district-level disaster management plans should be prepared. It seems, the money allocated for the disaster management in the state has not been spent as no such plan was finalised. The authorities seem are not bothered,” Nadeem said. Experts say the vulnerability of the state to natural disasters is higher than ever especially with the forest cover having reduced from 37 per cent to mere 11 per cent. “Deforestation is definitely a major reason which led to furious Uttarakhand floods and the same could happen in the state as well. The fast-depleting forest cover in state is a big reason for worry,” Nadeem said. Shakil Romshoo, the head of the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Kashmir, said Uttarakhand disaster should serve as a wake-up call for the state and the state government should formulate a comprehensive disaster-management policy as well as develop measures to reduce the risk and vulnerability of these disasters. “Scientists have warned that a natural catastrophe is looms large over the state,” he said.