HVRA study to lead to a comprehensive plan to tackle calamities

Arrangements are being made to conduct a Hazard Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (HVRA) of the city to arm it with a comprehensive disaster management plan.

For drawing up ways to conduct the HVRA, a consultative workshop involving United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representatives will be held at the Corporation on Tuesday. The HVRA will be carried out by the research wing of the State Disaster Management Authority and the first draft is expected to be completed by December, says city project coordinator Ramesh Krishnan.

The assessment is the first step and a prerequisite to draft the city disaster management plan, which is part of the ‘Government of India-UNDP Climate Risk Management Project in Urban Areas through Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation’.

The USAID-funded project was launched in January this year in eight cities in the country, including Thiruvananthapuram. The total outlay for the project is $41.2 million and will be for a period of three years from January 2012.

The need for such a plan was felt in the city in the past few months when aggressive monsoon caused severe water logging in several parts, landslips, and an eroding shoreline as well.

It also brought up the need to get going with the new plan, which is being largely described as the continuation of the Disaster Risk Reduction Programme that was initiated in 2010 when the disaster management cell was set up in the Corporation.

The 2010 plan was just a skeletal one and had not taken off much. On July 22, UNDP consultant Jyoti Parekh met with the Mayor and town planners, and told them that the plan was found lacking in, to name one, a proper response pattern to medical emergencies and epidemics. Such lacunae will be addressed in the new plan for which the HVRA is to be conducted.

The HVRA and subsequent action on the new plan will prompt engineers and town planners to look at projects through the lens of climate risk and natural calamities, so far ignored. Mr. Krishnan says mainstreaming or linking disaster risk reduction with other development plans such as the Basic Services for the Urban Poor and the Rajiv Awas Yojana housing projects, being carried out in the city limits, is another objective of the renewed plan.

Tuesday’s meeting will finalise what methodologies and tools should be adopted while carrying out the HVRA exercise. Moreover, since the meeting would primarily involve stakeholders at the local level, the assessment should be able to precisely list all the deficiencies and regions in the city that face physical or social vulnerability.

The HVRA study will also explore issues with rebuilding, the assets of the Corporation that could be lost in case of a disaster, and even simulate the extent of a damage that an earthquake in the region could inflict.