Intersectoral Convergence in Disaster Resilience is Fundamental -Ranjan Borah

Simi Mehta, Sunidhi Agarwal, Nishi Verma

In a webinar on Uttrakhand Flood Disaster 2.0: From Analysis to Action, organized by Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD), IMPRI Impact Policy And Research Institute, New Delhi, India Water Portal, Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar, Ranjan Borah, Disaster Management Specialist, Centre for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPPGG), Government of Uttarakhand highlighted that about 465 households had been impacted due to Chamoli floods in the 12 upper regions of Joshimath. The statistics are based on the report on February 18, 2021, by the Government of Uttarakhand’s State control room.  

He further acknowledged the response activities being carried out by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF),  State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Personnel in this challenging scenario. He said, in technical terms, the incident of February 7, 2021, is the Glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF). Similar GLOF incidents have occurred in the past, as evident from the Kedarnath floods.

He emphasized micro-level planning and capacity building among the local communities to mitigate disaster impact. He further said, the government is continuously working for sustainable development to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target by 2030.

He recommended that micro-level planning of training and building capacity amongst the local communities and empower the Panchayat Raj will build a strong resilience. He stated that the government is working on the shift from ‘Response oriented action’ to ‘Disaster preparedness.’ There is a need to incorporate people as valuable stakeholders.

He further elucidated some of the crucial points in the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines to cope with disasters. These include:

  • Focus on GLOF mitigation policies for Himalayan states
  • Local governing bodies should incorporate these mitigating guidelines.
  • Enforcement of Law, Regulation, and Accountability.
  • A specific set of guidelines or policies for the Himalayas.

He also highlighted that disaster management incorporates community preparedness. In the absence of disasters, planning and preparedness should be done at the local level, which needs to be mainstreamed and should not be a department’s responsibility.

He advised for following recommendations:

  • Micro management plans for  NTPC projects:

NTPC projects and Hydropower projects should have onsite and off-site disaster management plans, missing in the current scenario. He questioned why there are no mechanisms for rescuing workers. Currently, the resuce team is looking for dead bodies and missing people. Prior mechanisms, even the details of the workers, would have made the task easier. Such information would have facilitated in providing speedy compensation to the families of the affected. Thus, such micro-management plans would have been part of NTPC projects.

  • Resilient Himalayan people:

The people living in the upper Himalayas should be resilient. There are best practices for adapting to climate change; such practices should be adopted and train to face such disasters. There is a need for community training and resilience. This is a cross-sectoral approach and not only pertains to one department of disaster management.

  • Train officials:

He further elucidates the training of officials involved in the development of early warning signals.

He feels that the administration have enough funds for such programs. However, there is a need for inter-sectoral convergence.

While commenting on people-centric capacity-building measures, Ranjan Borah said that people’s perspective needs to be incorporated as a valuable stakeholder irrespective of the government agenda.

YouTube Video for Uttrakhand Flood Disaster 2.0: From Analysis to Action

Picture Courtesy: IUCN