Govt prepares ‘Blue Book’ on disaster management

NEW DELHI (TIP): The government is looking at ensuring “zero casualty” during natural disasters through proper mitigation measures but has warned states against “artificial suppression” of data on death and destruction.

The suggestion is part of a draft ‘Blue Book’ to guide relief and rehabilitation efforts before cyclones, learning from the experience of successful management of cyclone Hudhud in 2013.

“Care should be taken to see that the call for ‘zero casualty’ should not lead to artificial suppression of data,” the draft report, which was send to states seeking comments by April 30, said.

After disasters, there have been allegations from victims as well as civil society that the authorities were not providing the real numbers and suppressing figures to avoid giving compensations.

The proposal for ‘Blue Book’ came from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Union Home Ministry set up an inter-ministerial panel in October last.

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With “looting” of relief materials during relief efforts a trend, the draft also warns against police action during disaster situations as it is “neither feasible nor will serve the need to roll out relief work”.

“If any relief material is looted by the restless crowd, the strategy should be to send more relief material along the same route, in order to saturate the need at the intervening areas and to ensure that the material reaches interior areas quickly,” it said.

Another proposal was the construction of helipads at regular intervals along highways. Earlier, the main problem in dealing with disasters were the accessibility factor and choppers will be able to land on such helipads giving an impetus to movement of man and material, a senior official said.

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