Arjun Kumar, Nishi Verma, Sunidhi Agarwal
Ms Nivedita Khandekar, Independent Journalist throws light on the ineffectiveness, slow action and tardy rate of implementation of measures focusing on disaster mitigation. Ms Nivedita Khandekar, was speaking druing the panel discussion based on the topic, ‘Uttrakhand Flood Disaster 2.0: From Analysis to Action, organized by IMPRI Impact Policy And Research Institute, New Delhi, India Water Portal ,Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar.
During the presentation, Ms Khandekar focused on the fact that while analysis continues to take place, action is not taken at all. She also spoke about a few instances that highlight the slow and inefficient actions taken by the government. The central government claimed that the flood disaster had nothing to do with the Char Dham Project. Even Uttarakhand’s first Doppler Radar was installed after seven years of the Kedarnath strategy.
She further made a few recommendations which require immediate action. Firstly, it is important to monitor glaciers, rivers and weather, in general. The Central Water Commission (CWC) has very few units and even floor forecasting by the State Government is very weak. Secondly, there is a need to restrict entry/footfalls in the Higher Himalayas.
Underlining the importance of a single emergency alert system that can trigger a variety of public warning systems, she mentioned ‘Common Alerting Protocol’, a centralized system of information and warning dissemination. This can be done by collecting data from various government bodies and sources. The Common Alerting Protocol has been in the pipeline for some years and needs to be phased out to be practiced sooner. The information will not just be sent personally to individuals but also broadcasted and communicated on a larger scale.
Ms Khandekar, while addressing a question on increased migration to cities, reflects on how it was bound to happen as there is hardly any access to resources in remote corners of the country. Basic amenities like healthcare and education are a rarity, which need to be prioritized. Thus, to elevate and regenerate the livelihood system, various techniques like homestay based tourism to avoid foreign and commercial exploitation of land and resources, and processing and marketing of local products needs to be done.
She also highlighted the need for decentralized governance by saying that Uttarakhand is one of the few states in India where research and analysis has been extensively done and has released studies like Flood Zonation Mapping, State and District level Disaster Management plans and Tourism Risk Hotspot Study. Yet, the last mile connectivity and full-scale implementation of this research is still lacking and the issue is not addressed.
As a way forward, Ms Khandekar spoke about the need for student and community involvement in tracking the local weather with the designated authority, the need to train the glaciologists working in the state and in the region, the need to implement rules that are there on paper, and finally, the need to practice and explore indigenous and unfamiliar methods of conservation.
YouTube Video of Uttrakhand Flood Disaster 2.0: From Analysis to Action
Picture Courtesy: Photo by VIRENDER SINGH NEGI/AFP via Getty Images