Appraising the State Disaster Management Policy in its totality means, at the outset, to separate the wheat from the chaff as whatever results on expected lines could be derived due to formulation of the Policy,have been overshadowed on account of several provisions of the Policy in implementation having been obfuscated by the concerned departments of the Jammu and Kashmir Government. These observations are preludial to the entire issue as sensitive as managing the unforeseen events, usually bringing in its furious wake, death and destruction.
If memories and historical accounts from time to time in respect of Jammu and Kashmir are any sort of adumbration , they take us straight at knowing not only the State having been prone to multiple hazards and natural calamities but the extent and the magnitude thereof too. That scenario enjoins upon the State Government and its various agencies, departments and other apparatus, to adopt a proactive response and that too two pronged. One -the trying efforts to succeed in forewarning or predicting about an imminent disaster and, secondly- how a fully prepared and trained personnel when pressed into service supported by and equipped with the requisite infrastructure, could lessen the impact of the disaster to the barest possible minimum.
We do not indulge in tilting towards pointing out the areas of faltering and vacillating with more emphasis but highlight the brighter corners of an issue under consideration too and in the instant case, give the State Government the buck ups for rising to the occasion and formulating a Disaster Management Policy . The fact, however, remains that things done by halves are never thought to have been done fully.
To elaborate the point further, the Policy no doubt has received the attention of the Government with intent to give practical shape to it but the same is felt as half – way round. This is because of the fact that several provisions and the ones holding the key and critical position have been just ignored by several departments. The fact of the matter is that setting up of State Institute of Disaster Management , which is laced with playing a crucial role in disaster management, has not been established so far which perhaps is no music to the ears of those who toiled to formulate the entire Policy with respect to manage and mitigate the effects of disasters. Functions like capacity building, research, development of strategy for state precise prevention and attenuating measures, undertaking varied studies in hazard, vulnerability and risk assessments and the like were basics of the Policy itself.
The Policy also lays emphasis on establishment of Disaster Management Cells in all the departments designated and appointment of Nodal Officers for effective coordination and making speedy decision including preparation of Standard Operation Procedures. The reports are that most of the Departments have neither formulated Disaster Management Plans nor opened Disaster Management Cells which is tantamount to aborting the provisions of the Policy.
Shortage of staff and funds crunch are two biggest hindrances and obstacles as a peep is made direct into the causes. Take the case of Fire and Emergency Services which complains of reeling under staff shortage while State Disaster Response Force has not been strengthened with two additional battalions as was decided and about which through these columns, a few weeks back, we urged the State Government to take concerted action. Emergency Operation Centre has been made operational at Srinagar but Jammu has yet to see anything beyond a building identified for the purpose. Looking to the most fragile and sensitive issue of Disaster Management, the Government must take up on priority, addressing the vast gap between the provisions of the lucid but exhaustive Disaster Management Policy and its implementation, in letter and spirit .