City pauses to rehearse crisis response

Govt,security agencies,schools join mega drill to assess preparedness for a quake situation; evacuation drill carried out in malls,metro stations,hospitals.

Written by Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | Published:February 16, 2012 3:56 am

An earthquake of intensity 7.9 on the Richter Scale struck the Delhi-Moradabad fault-line at 11:30 am,with the epicenter of the earthquake being 275 km east of Delhi,near Moradabad at a depth of approximately 35 km. The tremors lasted 48 seconds. Strong tremors were also experienced in the North and North-Western states of India. Due to the La Nina effect,the temperatures have dipped and it has been raining for the last two days. The whole of Delhi is severely affected by the disaster. In the city alone,276 people died while 828 received major injuries. About 1,897 others sustained minor injuries.

A conditioned scenario,this was the hypothesis behind the first ever state-wide mega mock drill on earthquake preparedness conducted across the nine districts of Delhi on Wednesday. With 300 Army officers deployed across various locations as independent observers to the drill,the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) believes it would take at least five such drills to reach a level where the state-machinery and community participation would be judged in an impromptu mock drill.

“District-wise reports are now being generated and an internal preliminary review of the exercise would be conducted on Thursday after collating all data. The aim is not to find faults with any agency,but to know the gaps and pitfalls in order to cover up the lapses and be in a position to tackle disaster in a better manner,” Vijay Dev,Secretary,DDMA,told Newsline.

He said the drill should have been conducted earlier,considering the Disaster Management Actcame into being in 2005.

“But it is a good start. Even though we are at a nascent stage,the response to the exercise was very satisfactory. It is just the first attempt at sensitising the public as well as the state machinery on probable responses to disaster. The point of creating an impromptu scenario would be seen in the time to come,may be after five such exercises,” Dev said.

Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna has scheduled a meeting on Emergency Disaster Preparedness of the city with all the agencies on Friday. The meeting would also review Wednesday’s exercise and point out the areas of concern on the policy-level. The Army,which is conducting a third-party independent review of the exercise,would submit its report to the government by February 24.

“The most important objective of generating a healthy response from the public was majorly achieved through the drill,and many expressed their desire to be associated with the programme and get registered as civil defense volunteers. It has been accepted world over that the government alone cannot handle a disaster,what we need is a healthy community participation,” Dev said.

The mock drill was conducted across Delhi covering more than 1,000 sites including bridges,flyovers,malls,schools,colleges,hospitals,railway station,airport,residential areas,Metro stations,etc. It saw participation from various stakeholders,including the government sector,the private sector,RWAs,schools,colleges,universities,market associations,courts and judiciary and representatives of the public.

Over 15,000 persons are believed to have taken part in the entire exercise that lasted till 1 pm.

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