Collectors asked to prepare operational plans

By next year, the administrative machinery in the State may be better prepared to handle crisis response and calamity relief operations.

The State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) has initiated steps to complete the draft State plan for disaster management by this year end.

District Collectors have been directed to revise the District Disaster Management Plans (DDMPs) and prepare operational plans. Plan preparations are on in Palakkad, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, and Kottayam.

SDMA member and head scientist of State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) Sekhar L. Kuriakose told The Hindu that the five districts were expected to complete the exercise by June. The remaining districts would take up the preparation in the next phase, he said.

The district-level plans will be integrated to prepare the State plan, a document which seeks to establish operational and management procedures for disaster management.

The plan will outline the vulnerabilities of the State, strategies to be adopted for the prevention and mitigation of disasters, capacity-building measures and the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholder departments in responding to emergency situations.

Large parts of the State are prone to multiple hazards like storm surges, cyclones, landslips, floods, and lightning strikes.

Guidelines

According to the guidelines issued to Collectors, the district-level plan will be an operational document featuring the areas vulnerable to disasters and the capacity building and preparedness measures to be taken by the government and local authorities for prevention and mitigation of disaster.

It will also contain the response plans and procedures, including the allocation of responsibilities to departments and local authorities, procurement of essential resources, establishment of communication links and dissemination of information to the public.

“While district-level disaster management plans already exist, the preparation of a State plan requires inputs outlining the operational aspects in a simpler form. This is the exercise we have undertaken now,” explains Dr. Kuriakose. “Besides this, disaster management plans are also being prepared for all line departments,” he said.

The revised DDMP will define the hazard, risk and vulnerability profile of the district. It will outline the location and address of critical facilities and infrastructure that can be utilised for emergency response such as defence units, the nearest MET office, local authorities, hospitals, Fire and Rescue Services, Police, Home Guards, NDRF and NCC, along with the human resources available. The plan will list out the contact details of mobile networks, Internet service providers, radio stations, HAM radio networks and the print and visual media.

It will also feature information on water sources such as ponds, reservoirs, open wells, bore wells, pump houses and tankers, besides shops and NGOs.

The district plans will also contain flow charts on the disaster management organisational structure, incident command system and emergency communication between stakeholders.

Highlight

A highlight of the document is the response matrix showing how different agencies should coalesce into a coordinated pattern of linked actions across horizontal and vertical chains of command to mitigate the impact of a disaster. The DDMP will also describe the strategy to restore normalcy to the lives and livelihood of the affected population in the aftermath of a disaster.