Tripura roused

Government wakes up to the need for disaster management

Published: Saturday 15 January 2005

amid predictions of severe natural calamities in future, the Tripura government recently constituted disaster management teams at the village panchayat level and introduced disaster management as a subject in schools. Although the Union government's directive for the initiation of a panchayat level disaster preparedness programme dates back to 2002, it hadn't found favour with the Tripura government till recently, when national seismic advisor A S Arya suggested the immediate formulation of an action plan in this regard. Other north-eastern states like Assam have already started acting in this regard.

According to the Vulnerability Atlas of India, 1997, Tripura comes under the "very high earthquake damage risk-zone" (category v, magnitude 7.0 to 7.5) and faces the danger of "heavy storms and floods". Geologists say the reason behind this is the sedimentary rock formations in most areas. Experts also categorise the state as cyclonic as it experiences cyclonic winds at speeds up to 198 kilometres (km)/hour.

The Union ministry of urban development (moud) had asked the state government to undertake a sustainable campaign on natural hazard reduction. The government has now accepted the m o ud's recommendations , including a strategy, an action plan and technical guidance for constructing new buildings and 'retrofitting' existing buildings. Jayanta Choudhury, assistant professor at the State Institute of Public Administration and Development (sipad), says the government is studying preventive measures and post-disaster management strategies. sipad has begun training villagers and civil officials in disaster management.

The government plans to make the panchayat level teams spread awareness about the fundamental duties of the civil society and float the concept of disaster management. It is also introducing environment science as a subject in schools from 2005, in keeping with a Supreme Court directive. The subject will be taught to students of class vi. Salil Baran, secretary, Tripura Board of Secondary Education, says the science books of lower classes will be revised to include environmental concepts. The concepts will also be gradually included in the courses of upper classes in the coming years.

The state government is enforcing a separate regulation regarding the construction of buildings in densely populated areas. It has decided not to permit any multi-storied structure in future. "We have passed an order through local self-government to strictly follow the newly enacted regulation for construction," said Keshab Majumder, the state's revenue minister. Old buildings and hospitals are also being reconstructed.

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