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Disaster Management Authority, first in Delhi

Delhi will be the first state in the country to have a Disaster Management Authority. The Authority, which will be separate from the Disaster Management Cell, will be the apex body to prepare contingency plans. The Authority, which was supposed to come into being on October 9, will now be established later this month due to orders from the Election Commission.

‘‘Despite the impending elections, we have asked the Lt-Governor to give us special permission to establish the Authority as this is important,’’ says a member of the committee set up to oversee the establishment of the Authority.

The Disaster Management Cell was under the Ministry of Agriculture and looked after basic agricultural and farming issues such as floods and droughts in the country. Disaster management has now been shifted to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Authority, which will function as a separate body, has already been recommended by the Ministry of Home.

The focus of the Authority will now be earthquakes, cyclones, major fires in the Capital and also nuclear and biological threats. The Authority will be constituted under the chairmanship of Lt-Governor Vijai Kapoor. Raj Niwas officials say that Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has been invited to be a member of the committee. Other members will comprise of Commissioner of Police R.S. Gupta, Delhi Fire Service chief R.C. Sharma, Municipal Corporation of Delhi commissioner Rakesh Mehta, New Delhi Municipal Council chairman R. Narainswamy, divisional commissioner Sindhushree Khullar and a representative of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Preparedness, on the other hand, will look at the formulation of plans for managing disaster. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority will focus on earthquakes since the Capital falls in seismic zone 4. The Authority will be conducting studies on earthquakes and microzoning. It will be mapping the city and recommend building by-laws and construction permissibility accordingly. The UNDP will be helping the Authority in its policy formulation and disaster planning. Officials added that they will also look at foreign collaboration in policy formulation as well as training.