The city Corporation is gearing up to assume a major role in disaster management, under a project supported by the Central government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The disaster risk reduction (DRR) programme involves a series of activities to be taken up by the five municipal corporations in the State.
These include the preparation of a city disaster management plan, city hazard risk and vulnerability analysis, strengthening of city emergency operation centres and training of municipal officers in urban disaster response.
It also involves public awareness programmes on safe construction practices, community-based risk assessment and preparation of ward-level disaster management plan and sensitisation programmes for mayors and councillors on urban risk management.
One of the major objectives of the programme is the integration of disaster risk reduction into the City Development Plan.
“Municipal corporations have the funds and the support systems to assume a major role in disaster management. But they have been given only a limited role as the institutional mechanism is weighed heavily in favour of the district administration. The DRR programme is designed to plug this gap and provide a more meaningful role for urban local bodies. All that remains to be done is to dovetail the activities of the corporations to that of the district-level disaster management set up,” a UNDP official said.
Earlier this month, the corporation council approved the constitution of an implementation committee for the City Disaster Risk Reduction Plan proposed by the State Disaster Management Authority.
The panel will have the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, chairmen of standing committees, Secretary, Additional Secretary, Executive Engineers, Health Officer, Revenue Officer and Additional District Magistrate as members.
The council has approved the establishment of a disaster management cell at the Corporation office.
The Corporation is also acquiring emergency equipment like first aid kits, tarpaulin sheets, led torch lights, searchlights, portable generators, ropes, gas cutters, extension ladders and fire safety gadgets, as well as infrastructure equipment like handy cam, scanner, printer, toll free telephone land line, LCD projector with screen and mobile phones.
“The UNDP-aided programme is a serious intervention in the disaster mitigation and management mechanism,” Mayor C.Jayan Babu said.
“The acquisition of emergency kits is only the first step. We have plans to constitute quick response teams trained to handle emergency situations, including natural and manmade disasters. However, the preparation of decentralised disaster management plans is a long-term project that will spill over to the next council due to assume power later this year,” he said.
The Department of Disaster Management has appointed a project officer in Thiruvananthapuram Corporation. Earlier this month, a seminar was organised for councillors and officials to sensitise them to the DRR programme.
The UNDP official said the five municipal corporations would have to outsource the risk assessment and preparation of decentralised disaster management plans to NGOs and other professionally equipped agencies.