While Disaster Management Authority has done its bit, a lot still remains

With two quakes jolting the Capital during the month, the Delhi Government on Wednesday reviewed the preparations for a major disaster here.

Chairing the meeting, Delhi Revenue Minister A.K. Walia directed the Divisional Commissioner to prepare a list of all structural engineers and directed all the Deputy Commissioners (Revenue) to submit information on availability and requirement of resources and equipment within a fortnight.

The meeting took stock of the Delhi Government's preparedness in the event of a disaster as per the guidelines communicated by the National Disaster Management Authority. 

It was pointed out that while the Delhi Disaster Management Authority has made efforts to reinforce its machinery and workforce apart from ensuring that necessary equipment was in place and in usable condition, a lot more needed to be done.

“Complicated”

The Minister told Additional Secretary (Revenue) Kuldeep Singh Ganger, the Deputy Commissioners, and Additional District Magistrates and other senior officials that the challenge of disaster management in Delhi was “complicated and complex due to its high population density, extensive physical infrastructure, heavy vehicular traffic and a huge floating population.”

Being the National Capital, he said, Delhi faces high risk of terrorist attacks, and simultaneously, it is in the high seismic zone IV, which makes it vulnerable to natural disaster.

In view of such threats, Dr. Walia directed the Deputy Commissioners to “re-examine and re-look their preparedness, existing equipments and further requirements.”

He demanded they put all the details on their website along with information on helplines.

The Minister directed the Divisional Commissioner to maintain close interaction with all agencies, including Delhi Police, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, Delhi Fire Service, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Transport and Health Departments, to coordinate efforts.

He said general awareness should also be increased on tackling disasters and tips on prevention and immediate response must be forcefully disseminated through media and advertisements.     

With the coming up of new buildings and expansion of existing buildings in congested localities, Dr. Walia said the possibility of building collapse incidents was also growing. 

In light of this, he directed the Divisional Commissioner to prepare a list of structural engineers and the district authorities to submit detailed information on status of electricity, water supply, removal of debris, evacuation of affected persons, communication, relief measures and transport that could be utilised during disaster management.

Dr. Walia said emergency health services should also be properly prepared to respond to any disaster-like situation. 

He instructed hospitals to provide information on number of emergency beds available, provision of temporary beds, emergency OT lights, x-ray machines and ultrasound machines.  He also directed them to submit details of their additional requirements.

The hospitals have also been asked to keep a ready stock of medicines for three months. “They must be in a position to commission an emergency OT and health services in open place in case any major disaster takes place and the existing infrastructure gets badly damaged,” he said. 

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