HC notice to Govt on earthquake preparedness

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HC notice to Govt on earthquake preparedness
KG News Desk
Jammu, June 7: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court today issued notice to the State Government on its preparedness for earthquake.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by one Kirpal Chand seeking direction for the State to constitute a committee to review the preparedness of the State Government with regard to the earthquake and to carry out all the allied processes.
A Division Bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court comprising First Puisne Judge Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice B S Walia after hearing Advocates issued notice to the Union Home Secretary, Vice-Chairman National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC), Chief Secretary J&K and Financial Commissioner Revenue to file the response
In last week of last month, Governor NN Vohra has urged Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to take personal cognizance and issue firm directives to each and every stakeholder to forthwith start preparing for dealing with an earthquake of 8.0 magnitude and above.
His statement came a week after studies by Oregon State University suggested that J&K is ripe for a major earthquake that could endanger the lives of a million people.
In a letter to the CM, the Governor had re-iterated that J&K is predominantly located in Seismic Zone-V “and our people had, as recently as, in the 2005 earthquake, suffered considerable losses.” Noting the response of the administrative system to the September 2014 floods, the Governor had expressed concern that “we were totally unprepared on all fronts.”
The Governor has urged the SDMA must take urgent and time bound steps for strengthening all possible structural/non-structural mitigation measures to reduce the risk vulnerability in every part of the State, particularly the two capital cities and all the other densely populated high risk urban areas. Side by side, the various urban administration authorities, governmental and elected, shall need to strictly enforce a techno-legal regime to ensure earthquake resilient structural measures in every new construction, and, side by side, retro-fitting of all life-line structures, particularly hospitals, schools, colleges, universities, railway stations, airports and buildings housing important government offices.
The Governor has pointed to the need for large scale programmes being continuously carried out to create adequate awareness for enhancing the capacities of the community to become prepared for dealing with any arising situation. Further, the urban and rural communities, in all parts of the State, must become capable of effectively playing the role of First Responders and not running helter and skelter looking for help from government. In this context, it is of crucial importance to secure total awareness amongst school and college students and capacity building among all stakeholders who would be involved in First Response and emergency management. Also, the capacity and capability of accident/emergency/trauma centres shall have to be considerably enlarged, along with the provision of all required equipments and skilled manpower, the Governor has written.
SDMA shall need to hold an urgent meeting and prescribe a time frame in which each District Disaster Management Authority shall require to become prepared and functional. This should be followed by regular conduct of mock drills in schools, colleges and at various public places throughout the State, involving all stakeholders and the public at large. This will help in identifying the gaps in our preparedness and thereby enable us to identify the measures required to strengthen our Disaster Management capacities.
The Governor had suggested the usefulness of a senior officer being appointed to serve as the nodal authority who shall forthwith get in touch with NDMA and start developing/building up an “earthquake scenario” for a near actual visualization of an earthquake of the projected magnitude.