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Saving the Lives in Peril

Flood endangers thousands of lives in UP and Bihar

Several areas in our country face the wrath of nature. Floods, cloudburst, landslide and earthquakes are to name a few which are beyond human control. Lots of lives perish, thousands of acres of cultivated land submerge in water and lakhs of people render homeless due to flood alone which is annual feature in Bihar, Bengal, North Eastern states and East Uttar Pradesh.

The flood in western Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh is perennial occurrence. The rivers flowing in these areas frequently change their courses. Moreover, being situated in foothills of Himalaya, the rain water comes in a full force whenever there is heavy rain in the heights of Nepal and release of water from barrages situated there.

Life saving materials of NDRF

The land in these areas is very fertile. When the crop is good and everything seems right, the flash flood comes and washes away the hard labour of the farmers who are solely banking upon a good crop for their livelihood.


Life Detector Sensors

The disasters normally strike in an unprecedented manner. But in UP, where the flood is an annual event, the preparedness can lessen the loss of life and property considerably. According to a recent World Bank Report, a dollar invested in mitigation can save 20 dollars later when disasters actually struck. That means, spending 100 Crore rupees on strengthening of flood security and warning system and preparing the villagers for the worst can save a whopping 2000 Crore rupees later. In the worst-ever flood in eastern UP in 1998 Rs 400 Crores were spent on rescue, relief and other measures. At that time, a single flight of IL-76 cargo plane of Indian Air-force cost around five lakh rupees to carry just three boats to Gorakhpur. It took several flights between Gorakhpur and Varanasi. The boat was not worth even 10,000 rupees! It was just an example. There were other expenses like airdropping of food items, setting up of shelters and arranging food and medicine for human being and cattle. Apparently there was no preparedness on the part of people and administration. It needed a disaster management. After several of such disasters the need was felt to have a special disaster management body. Thus the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) came into being in 2005.

"On 23 December 2005, the Government of India enacted the Disaster Management Act, which envisaged the creation of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister, and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief Ministers, to spearhead and implement a holistic and integrated approach to Disaster Management in India."

The NDMA has its own task force for training the people, rescuing at the time of calamity and doing the ground work to speedily help the people in peril. Various Battalions of National Disaster Response Force helped thousands of people during flood in Bihar during past three years. As per National Commission on Floods, 23 percent of the flood prone area of India is concentrated in Uttar Pradesh. Out of total losses due to flood in Uttar Pradesh 60 percent occurs in eastern UP alone. The flood is an unrelenting reality that ravages easterners every year. The NDMA held a workshop in Gorakhpur on August 6, 2011 to focus on issues like Improved Flood Early Warning Framework, and Pilot Project on strengthening Civil Defence.

Scientists from Indian Space Research Organisation, Indian Meteorological Department and Engineers from Central Water Commission familiarised the participants about flood forecasting, early warning systems and flood modelling. The Vice Chairman of NDMA M. Shashidhar Reddy, also actively participated in the workshop. Mr Reddy expressed his unhappiness over the pathetic condition of mud embankments along the various rivers in Gorakhpur region.

This camera can detect life by probing through a hole in rubble

An exhibition was also held in Gorakhpur to display the equipment being used by 9th Battalion of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for rescue and relief operations in case of earthquake or floods. Several life saving devices were also on display. These include state of art camera, life sensor machines, divers' gear, life jackets and boats and so on.

The NDMA has earlier imparted training to villagers of flood prone areas on making rafts from readily available items like bamboo, banana tree logs and even from a charpoy. We can not stop floods as it is a natural disaster. But with the help of training and alertness on the part of sufferers, lives and properties can be saved and impact of disaster can be minimised to a tolerable extent.

Salman Haider, AIR Correspondent, Gorakhpur

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