Shallow disaster management draft
Some years ago, the Institute of Management & Public Administration (IMPA), an organisation usually headed by an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) of Jammu and Kashmir cadre, prepared a report meant to handle disaster preparedness. It was named Draft Jammu and Kashmir State Disaster Management Policy.
There is an electronic version of this draft policy available on the Internet and those desirous of reading the full text can go to use http://www.ifrc.org/docs/IDRL/DM_POLICY0_J%26K_IMPA.pdf The interesting thing is that this draft policy was meant to guide the state in disaster management but never got its due from the state government.
It bears mention here that may not sound very surprising because those in the know of the things in the state know only too well that a posting as IMPA chief is the last thing an IAS desires in the state. In fact, successive state governments have never failed to use this posting as something of a punishment posting for IAS officers.
The draft is spread over 48 pages when you open it and is divided into nine chapters. Perhaps those drafting it knew only too well what its fate will be. That perhaps becomes clear to us from the manner in which chapters VIII and IX are given on a single page, i.e. page number 47.
Even more interesting is the fact that Chapter VIII bears heading “Role of various Organs of the Government“ while chapter IX deals with “Role of NGOs and CBOs’’. There is no text given in these chapters, meaning thereby that no role has been defined for various organs of the government and none for NGOs or the CBOs!
The state government seems to have literally taken the draft policy way too seriously. In the present context, when unprecedented floods have hit large parts of the state, particularly Kashmir valley, the government seems to have been playing no role in the goings-on.
On page 2 of the report, there are evocative titles, which seem to have been flagrantly violated and ignored. This page contains only titles like Policy Vision, Disaster Resilient Communities: Safe and Secure Jammu and Kashmir.
Later, it goes on to talk of the Policy Mission as well and declares, Every place –A safe place, Every house- A secure home, Every individual -wearing a smile and the last phrase it uses is the summing up of it all: The journey continues to the last mile.
Chapter I of the report takes an overview of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Chapter II talks of the “Disaster Vulnerability of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.’’
Regarding Floods, the draft says: Floods take place quite frequently in Kashmir. An enormous amount of water flows into the valley and the only outlet for the water from the valley is the narrow gorge at Baramulla. Floods generally occur in the summer when heavy rain is followed by a bright sun, which melts the snows. If an embankment is breached or topped, a district which is dry a few hours back becomes a lake after a few hours.
The Jhelum is mainly responsible for floods in Kashmir valley. In ordinary times, it flows gently between its banks, but in times of flood, it overflows its natural banks. Floods occur occasionally in the Jammu Province. As and when they take place, they are caused by heavy and continuous rains and cause huge losses to property.
Given this thoroughness or call it the lack of it, one can perhaps understand now how and why the state government is at its wits ends to do anything in the prevailing circumstances. (To be continued.)