THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Absence of mock drills, preparedness through continuous testing policies, plans and training the stake holders are identified as the major reasons behind people’s reluctance to move out from land slide and disaster prone areas despite warnings.
After Kavalapara and Puthumala landslides which resulted in heavy casualty, pressure is building on the government and the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) to effectively implement Disaster Management Act and the National Disaster Management Plan in the state.
A section of people allege that not even a single mock drill has been conducted in Kerala in connection with disaster preparedness/evacuation. There has been no subsequent modification of the State Disaster Management Plan after it was approved by Government vide GO (Rt) No. 3667/2016/DMD September 9, 2016.
As per National Disaster Management Plan, the state government, state disaster management authority, the revenue department, DDMA, police and panchayats are responsible for joint planning and execution of emergency drills. Disaster Management Act calls for periodic execution of emergency /mock drills as an important exercise for promoting preparedness. Besides, it emphasises on continuing education programmes on risk factors and training requirements of the stakeholders.
In fact, the district and state disaster management plans are to be continuously updated based on the experience gained from these exercises apart from other inputs. The effectiveness of the plans are directly dependent on how frequently and how accurately the ‘dynamic’ components of the plans are updated based on feedback from these drills/exercises.
It is pointed out that there is no mention of any mock drill relating to flood disaster or of any modifications to the State Disaster Management Plan, since the Plan was approved, in the website maintained by the State Disaster Management Authority. Many say these are extremely grave omissions on the part of the state government and the KSDMA.
However, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority member secretary Dr Shekhar Lukose Kuriakose said these are baseless charges. “See 14.4 per cent of Kerala is landslide prone. But by and large it is a safer state compared to many other states. It is not lack of awareness that is creating the problem. It is the land pressure. There are a lot of people up there. People through legislative processes migrated uphill since time immemorial. They were encouraged to cultivate more. Now suddenly you go and give awareness that you have to depopulate. No body is going to listen,” he said.
According to KSDMA, the people are emotionally tagged to the land. It is the same emotion that works during the times of crisis. So it is not lack of awareness but the emotional quotient. People take calculated risk and acceptable risk. Therefore the solutions have to be evolved locally. It cannot be done overnight by giving them some ten brochures or doing mock drills. “People are not going to change their mindset,” he said....