JK struggling to take hazard, risk assessment measures
Srinagar, Feb 22: Five years since the State Disaster Management Plan (SDMP) was formed, the J&K government is struggling to take any hazard and risk assessment measures. As per the SMDP guidelines, the disaster management must take into account worst-case scenarios in the event of the largest possible hazard, and build an action plan accordingly to deal with the disasters. Official records accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that officials are struggling to weed out bottlenecks, even as the funds to undertake the same were made available to them. In 2014-15, GoI has released Rs 12 crore out of the allocated Rs 20 crore funds for procuring equipment for rescue and relief. However, records show that Rs 25.24 lakh of it, specifically released for preparing disaster hazard map, was spent on procuring vehicles for Relief and Rehabilitation Department in 2014-15. According to National Disaster Management Authority, hazard maps are a key component to combine hazard information with evacuation routes and locations of evacuation centres, are effective tools for promoting evacuation procedures and risk awareness among the public. Aamir Ali, Director J&K Disaster Management Authority said, “The process of preparing a risk is still on the cards. We are waiting for World Bank’s approval.” Last year he told The Kashmir Monitor that “they have floated the “Expression of Interest” to hire the consultant, who would do the risk assessment. With no risk map in place means that authorities are far behind in measuring the disaster’s potential impact. As such the government has not done any risk assessment in as many as 13 districts identified as prone to multiple hazards in J&K. The valley has already witnessed a multitude of earthquakes in the past several years. Environmental expert Shakeel Ahmad Romshoo, a professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Kashmir had expressed his concern over the low preparedness for dealing with disasters in the state falling in seismic zones IV and V. “We can’t predict the timing, magnitude and place of an earthquake but we should be well prepared in dealing with any such natural disaster,” he had said.