By Dr. Ashok Sanganal, Head, Centre for Disaster Management, ATI, Mysuru
The Centre for Disaster Management, Administrative Training Institute (ATI), Mysuru, in collaboration with Revenue Department (Disaster Management) and Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority, has been actively involved in helping the State Government and District Administrations in preparing State and District Disaster Management (DM) Plans.
Specific mention can be made to the State plans prepared for the years 2019-20 and the draft State DM plan 2020-21 prepared aligning with national plan 2019.
ATI Mysuru conducted a series of consultative workshops at the district and regional levels inviting officers and experts of different departments, NGOs and scientific organisations to prepare State and District DM plans.
Disaster Management Act 2005
The Disaster Management Act 2005 marks the institutionalisation of Disaster Management in India giving emphasis on proactive response vis-à-vis traditionally followed relief-centric approach stressing on pre-disaster activities such as prevention, mitigation and preparedness.
Planning for biological disasters covering Ebola, Cholera, COVID-19 or any such disasters have been comprehensively taken into account. Keeping in view the severity and complexity of such biological disasters, the ATI has carried out an exercise to identify the responsibility matrix for different agencies and departments both at the State and district levels for effective preparedness for early warnings and forecasting, risk assessment, structural and non-structural mitigation, awareness, training and capacity development of agencies, recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation (building back better) have been clearly identified and defined.
The State plan provides hazard profile, preparedness plan, institutional framework, communication and response plan, social inclusiveness, main streaming Disaster Risk Reduction, responsibility framework for different agencies and departments defining clearly the tasks to be performed for preparedness, mitigation, recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction for disasters namely biological disasters, meteorological disasters, geological disasters, chemical disasters and other accident-related disasters.
Aligning with the Karnataka State Disaster Management Plan, all districts were helped to prepare their own individual plans. In the management of COVID-19, both the State and district plans have provided guidance to the authorities for managing this unexpected emergent and unknown disaster. The effect of the disaster (COVID-19) has been immediate and widespread. The effect may challenge or overwhelm the capacity of a community or society to cope using the available resources.
The severity of COVID-19 made the Government of India implement almost all the provisions of the national plan and DM Act 2005. The Central Government has advised all the State governments to implement their respective State DM plans and the provisions of DM Act 2005. The State Government has accordingly implemented almost all the provisions including the ones relating to containing the violations and offenses during COVID-19 management.
Sustained efforts by Centre
Since the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 pandemic and public health emergency of international concern, Government of India and almost all the State Governments have issued a series of orders, advisories and instructions to their departments and agencies quoting the provisions of the Act for effective preparedness and response to contain the spread of COVID-19. The sustained efforts of Government of India from the day one (7th January 2020) of announcement of SARS COV2 as the causative agent for the disease, consultative meetings, advisories and instructions on hospital preparedness, thermal screening, entry surveillance were immediately taken up with the help of State Governments.
Battling the pandemic
The Centre for Disaster Management, ATI, during the year 2019-20 alone trained over 9,000 officials from Government departments and local bodies spread across the State on different themes of disaster management. This skilled manpower is available to the district administrations for involving them in management of disasters. During this lockdown period to maintain the social distancing norms and to avoid mass gathering, the Centre has planned online training programmes on COVID-19 preparedness for the officials of local bodies in the affected districts.
The State Disaster Management Plans 2019-20 and 2020-21 and district plans will be a guiding tool and give direction to all the departments, district administrations, public and private agencies, industries and community for better preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response and reconstruction activities. These plans will guide all concerned functionaries and agencies to take timely action so that the impact of any disaster is reduced to the minimum.