Joint Secretary Government of India in
Ministry of Agriculture
Prevention Rather Cure
- IDNDR is about to conclude. Would you like to tell us about the activities of your Ministry during IDNDR?
Natural Disaster Management Cell, Ministry of Agriculture has taken several steps during IDNDR. We have set up the National Centre for Disaster Management in the Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi and separate Disaster Management Faculties in 15 State Level Administrative Training Institutes.
Major diasters such as Uttarkashi and Latur earthquakes, have been documented. Research study on landslides in Kerala has been carried out. A source book for use of trainees of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration has been prepared. In addition, Ministry has been involed in organising/sponsoring of programmes/seminars on various facets of natural disaster management. Our special focus is on public education and community awareness campaigns through newspapers and postal stationery. The awareness is done through electronic media also. Documentaries have been prepared to generate awareness. We have taken initiatives towards sensitisation of students about natural disasters. In this regard, a project has been prepared with Council of Boards of School Education. Alongwith, orientation courses are being organised in schools. Organisation of special events on the occasion of Disaster Reduction Day too highlights its significance and importance. A Programme for Enhancing of Emergency Rescue (PEER) for first responders at village level has been developed. This is a 5 years project and ADPC, Bangkok is the nodal agency for implementing this project.
- You have mentioned about National Centre for Disaster Management (NCDM) and State Level Training Institute. Can you tell us more about their activities?
The NCDM, besides gearing up the national, state and district level administrations to tackle the natural disasters, would also coordinate various research, training programmes and build a data base on different aspects of natural disasters. The Disaster Management Faculties in 15 states viz. Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerela, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have been established. The number of the training institutes are being increased depending upon the requirements of various states. The main function assigned to DMCs is to train the state level officers in addition of preparing case studies and conducting research. Centre for excellence in various institutes such as Indian Institutes of Technologies have been planned.
- What is the purpose of training government officials and so far what has been the response of your training programmes?
The idea behind training the government officials is to make them aware of the issues so that they can have better appreciation of the problems while handling the disasters. We have got good response from the states regarding training programmes .
- We have the impression that the Ministry’s programme is too much ‘relief oriented’. Comments please?
Yes, it was relief oriented but now it is more on preparedness. Of course, it will not change overnight.
- What do you think incorporating latest technologies such as GIS in your disaster management programme?
The GIS has evolved as a decision support system simply due to its capabilities of integrating enormous amount of complex data and displaying it in an interpretable and meaningful form. It has to be integrated in our programmes. It is inevitable. Ministry is contemplating a GIS based management progaramme at national level.
- Information Network is an essential element in disaster management. Is your Ministry involved in this aspect also?
The experience of management of natural disasters during 1998 had revealed that the level of status of preparedness for meeting the situation effectively needs strengthening and streamlining. It has been felt there is a need of improvement in the existing communication system. It has been decided to strengthen the Control Room on Natural Calamities as well as Offices of State Relief Commissioners by providing latest available equipment/technologies. We need to have proper-trained staff for operating these equipment. There is a committee for overall revamping of Natural Disaster Management in the country under the chairmanship of Central Relief Commissioner. In order to take a detailed and in-depth look into all relevant aspects we also have a Sub Group under my chairmanship, IT and Communication.