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Jammu & Kashmir gets disaster management policy

Kashmir, India: The State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), Jammu & Kashmir in India, approved a three-tier draft disaster management policy to manage natural and man-made disasters in the state. On hazard, risk and vulnerability (HRV) analysis, the policy talks of technical HRV analysis and mapping using GIS.

Chief Minister of the state, Omar Abdullah presided over the SDMA meeting that laid importance on professional responses to preparedness, prediction and prevention of disasters. Kashmir is prone to natural calamities like earthquakes, floods, snow-storms, landslides, cloudbursts and droughts, according to an official statement.

Abdullah said there was a need for a fool-proof mechanism to rescue, provide relief and rehabilitate disaster-hit people. He asked the authorities to strengthen operational functionaries at all levels, enhance capacity building and educate people about the importance of disaster management.

According to an analysis of the policy published in Greater Kashmir, most of the countries, including India, are signatories to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA). HFA sets out the United Nation’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), which has defined key terms related to disaster management. Internationally, the overarching term that defines disaster risk reduction (DRR), disaster response and conflict risk management (CRM) is disaster risk management (DRM). The draft policy mentions the term ‘disaster management’, which technically does not address the whole DRM idea.

The draft policy often interchangeably uses the terms ‘hazard’ and ‘disaster’, which mean two different things. There is little in the policy which could define an emergency situation as a result of a disaster. As such the policy requires a thorough technical revision to make its terminology in line with the international practice. The risk of ignoring this aspect is that our concepts and actions may not be in tandem to the general understanding on the issue. International experience shows that that could prove disastrous in an emergency situation.

Although the policy has addressed the issue of disaster preparedness to some extent, but again it has missed out on critical technicality. The right term to address disaster preparedness is disaster risk reduction (DRR) because disaster preparedness is only one part of DRR. It will be much better for the policy to explain at the outset that disaster risk management (DRM) will mean DRR, disaster response and conflict risk management. DRR must also factor in climate change.

GIS technology is known to help in disaster risk reduction to some extent, but it falls well short of addressing the human and social dimensions at the micro level. GIS analysis should only be a small part of HRV analysis, which should ideally be undertaken at the official level.

Source: Greater Kashmir and Jagran Post