Counselling, anxiety management for public mooted

Disaster management experts have called for programmes to prepare for emergency in the Mullaperiyar dam area following the Supreme Court order to raise the dam’s water level.

They have also sought repeated counselling and anxiety management programmes for the people downstream, including schoolchildren, besides strengthening electronic and human surveillance programmes.

Though authorities had enthusiastically responded to the emergency preparedness programmes suggested by experts during the height of the Mullaperiyar agitation, the eagerness subsequently fizzled out.

Since then, experts of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) had been urging government agencies, including the Forest Department, to clear proposals for strengthening safety measures.

Recently, the SDMA had acquired high-resolution digital maps of the area with the support of the National Remote Sensing Authority and the Indian Space Research Organisation into which the emergency evacuation plans would be plotted.

This database was made available to the Army, Navy, the intelligence wing of the State police, and the Idukki District Collector.

The high-resolution database would help authorities manage a crisis situation effectively. The authority hoped to prepare an atlas of the region, the experts said.

Digital seismographs

The Kerala State Electricity Board had recently installed digital seismographs with real-time monitoring system with real-time access to the Centre for Earth Science Studies, they said.

The authority had undertaken a massive emergency preparedness programme in a never-before manner, covering over 60,000 people downstream who would be affected by a dam-break. The mobile phone numbers of those likely to be affected were collected and linked to an early-warning system.

Trauma management

The Revenue officials had undertaken stress and trauma management programmes as repeated tremors in Idukki and fears about the dam-safety had whipped up panic among the public. Experts had counselled nearly 7,000 students in around 60 schools.

“The disaster preparedness programmes should be carried out continuously. Such programmes may be required in Idukki during monsoon season and incidents of tremor,” an official who was in charge of the preparedness programme said.

The experts had identified the possible levels to which water could rise in case of a dam-break, and also the evacuation points and routes to reach the safe spots.

Facilities for police

The life and property of thousands residing downstream would be lost and the massive preparedness programme wasted, if the surveillance system was not strengthened. The facilities for the 30-odd policemen on the dam site, who would serve as the first warning mechanism, should be improved. Power supply was yet to reach the police outpost there. The communication facility provided to them should also be improved, suggested the experts.

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