Urban areas are more vulnerable to disasters and need a plan to take up reduction measures than villages where people are capable of coping with such contingencies, Principal Secretary, Revenue and Commissioner for Disaster Management, T. Radha has said.

In his key note address at a city consultancy workshop on Tuesday, he said with its population growth rate, Visakhapatnam was more vulnerable than even Hyderabad in the next decades to come.

The workshop on "Climate risk management in urban areas through disaster preparedness and mitigation" was organised by the Government of India and UNDP and GVMC. Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada are the two cities from the state among the eight in the country selected for the three-year project with a cost of $1.65 million ending September 2015. The object is to chalk out a city disaster management plan and mitigation and reduction measures.

In view of the importance of the subject, it was included in school syllabi from class VI to XI and for 10 to 15 marks in APPSC and in UPSC as well, Dr. Radha said. The municipal corporation had to identify three engineering officials to monitor the situation. Also, the city should be able to identify vulnerabilities for which a solution would have to be found, he pointed out.

Municipal Commissioner M.V. Satyanarayana said the city disaster management plan covered in the district plan. Industry has its plans. However, there was a need for integrated safety plan.

Programme Management Specialist of USAID Balaka Dey said it was the first city-level workshop being organised on the by USAID. Andhra Pradesh was ahead by developing training modules and contributing master trainers. "A wide gamut including educational institutions, NGOs and civil society will be involved. Preparedness and reducing loss are the important objects in the eventuality of a disaster," Ms. Dey pointed out.

Emergency analyst and OIC, Disaster Management unit, UNDP, G. Padmanabhan said sudden changes were taking place in cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Jaipur. They were very intense with the annual rainfall occurring in two, three days and in places least expected. "For instance, Jaipur was under a sheet of water for two days," he said. It would have several consequences, he explained. Stagnant water coupled with ill-equipped waste management system would lead to contamination and mosquito breeding leading to more dengue cases.

Mr. Padmanabhan said climate change risk management would require capacity building for institutions and the community. Strategies have to be evolved at city and community-level. If there was a city disaster management plan it would be reviewed and if necessary, revised, he said.

Prof. R.V. Rama Rao pointed out that the city’s disaster management plan needed a total revision as it was prepared when it was small. Subsequently, it was expanded with 72 wards and there was now a proposal to merge new areas. It should be dynamic taking into account city master plan, VUDA’s master plan and the fact it was a part of PCPIR, he said. Environmentalist Sivaji Rao pointed out that there were level 1 and 2 plans and they should take into consideration land use and traffic management plans.

Abha Mishra who made a presentation said the old disaster management plan was not available though there appeared to be sectoral plans like industry having one of its own.

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