The emergency operation centre opened on East Coast Road near Pakkumudiyanpet just a few days ago before the notification of the Assembly polls without much fanfare will act as the nerve centre of the district administration in case of a major natural calamity.

The octagonal building that can withstand even a major earthquake will become the operational hub of the administration, helping various wings of the government in rescue, providing relief and rehabilitation to victims during natural calamities such as earthquake, tsunami and cyclone.

The building, which is being equipped with all latest communication devices, can even host a Cabinet meeting to take crucial decisions, Joint Project Director L. Mohamed Mansoor told The Hindu. A vulnerability mapping software - Puducherry Decision Support System - developed by Risk Mapping Software International, Delhi, would serve as a guide for the officials in preparing themselves for rescue and rehabilitation.

“The PDSS is a desktop application built on a Spatial Database platform by adding information about exposure, hazards and vulnerability. It is designed to provide support for planning, coordination, response, guidance and decision making for emergency management personnel. The software provides access to vital information with respect to natural perils such as cyclone, storm surge, flood and drought for disaster preparedness,” Mr. Mansoor said.

The contour map with satellite images covering every nook and corner of the four regions provides information on the topography, available facilities for immediate relocation of people, nearest police station, fire station and hospitals. On the click of a button all information required for disaster management would be displayed on a projector, Mr. Mansoor said.

The 24-hour control room operated on shift basis would be equipped with V-Sat communication system, VHF communication antennas linked with coastal villages and other modern gadgets. Those operating the centre would also closely monitor occurrence of earthquake worldwide by getting footage from the interactive earthquake map prepared by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology on a daily basis, he said.

The centre would also provide access to general public to covey information on any natural disaster and accidents by dialing 1077, which is specifically allotted by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. The voice could be recorded and adequate facility had been provided to generate short messaging services to issue alert messages to officials, he said.

While the cost of the building designed by the National Disaster Management Authority which comes to around Rs 54 lakh was borne by the territorial administration, the expenditure incurred for developing the software for about Rs 90 lakh was funded by the United Nations Development Programme.