A crisis management committee formed to preempt terror attacks in the city will look at safety lapses at sensitive establishments and take steps to handle crises situations effectively

Following the terror attacks on a shopping complex in Kenya and a church in Pakistan, Chennai is putting in place systems to prevent such crises.

A crisis management committee has been formed to preempt attacks of this nature by enabling guardians of sensitive establishments to detect and defuse threats. Various arms of the government will join in the initiative, a fact illustrated by the composition of the Committee.

It consists of top officials from the Chennai city police, the Corporation, Metropolitan Transport Corporation, railways, Metrowater, fire and rescue services, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, Public Works Department and the revenue department.

The Committee, which meets on Friday at the city police commissioner’s office in Egmore, will primarily examine sensitive establishments — such as malls, places of worship, transport hubs, public offices, star hotels, IT parks and major educational institutions — and look for safety lapses that could give terrorists a foothold.

The abilities of various government agencies to deal with a terror strike will also be reviewed. “The meeting is expected to fix responsibilities for each official in a Corporation zone. The officials concerned will be expected to mobilise tools and machinery near the site, within minutes of an attack,” said a Corporation official.

The city’s public health officials and paramedical staff will be trained on colour coding for injured people so a differentiation between the grievously injured and those out of danger can be made quickly. With easy identification, the staff will be able to prioritise medical intervention.

Disaster management experts also point out the role of councillors and NGOs in the management of such crises. “Designated personnel from the police and the Corporation should conduct orientation programmes for councillors on how to cope with terror attacks in their wards. Sensitive information need not be shared with the councillors, but they could still play a role in reducing fear among residents during such incidents,” said A. Noorjahan, a councillor in Mylapore.

The Committee is also expected to come up with specific plans for neighbourhoods where a large chunk of shopping malls are located.

With the Corporation yet to generate data to facilitate a comprehensive evacuation plan with assembly points and safe routes in such neighbourhoods, there is a lot of work to be done in this area.

Based on decisions made at Friday’s meeting, the Corporation council is likely to make more civic recommendations for crisis management in major buildings where people gather in large numbers.

Standard procedures during terrorist attacks

The meeting will also focus on standard operational procedures to be carried out during a terrorist attack.

“The Committee is an effort at sharing the resources of each State agency in dealing with such crises,” said a senior police officer, expected to take part in the meeting.

Among the various points of discussion are negotiation procedures, combat operations and safety of vulnerable groups such as women, children and elderly during terror attacks.

Control centres that would orchestrate a multi-pronged response, deploying personnel and marshalling adequate resources, detailed plans in handling crises and specific roles for each agency are likely to be chalked out and handed to the representatives concerned, an official said.

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