Less than one month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP), Guwahati on Wednesday became the first city in the country to undertake a major mock drill aimed at tackling the worst kind of floods in an urban setting.
While about half a dozen helicopters displayed risky rescue operations on the Brahmaputra – the river is already in full spate – a number of flood response teams of the Army, Navy, NDRF and SDRF took part in a mock exercise on the river, displaying various kinds of responses that are available with them to tackle any kind of emergency arising out of severe floods in an urban situation.
A day earlier, representatives of the Army, IAF, Indian Navy, NDRF, SDRF, NDMA and ASDMA got together for a day-long brainstorming on how to make rescue and relief operations in a Chennai-like or Srinagar-like flood situation occurring in Guwahati.
“While floods are an annual phenomenon in Assam, Guwahati is experiencing increased urban floods in the recent years. Given this backdrop, a coordinated approach as laid down in the National Disaster Management Plan has come as a major boon for a city like Guwahati, which is not just a state capital but the gateway to the entire Northeast,” Assam chief secretary VK Pipersenia said.
The Guwahati exercise, in fact, was the first of its kind carried out on a national scale since the unveiling of the National Disaster Management Plan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 1. The Plan takes into account the global trends in disaster management, and incorporates the approach enunciated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-30, a UN agreement to which India is a major signatory.
Representatives of different government agencies, including the armed forces, also analysed various loopholes and gaps in the disaster-preparedness of the Assam capital, and drew up a comprehensive plan to tackle any urban flood emergency in which various central and state agencies including the Army can play their respective crucial roles.
“Urban flood has emerged as a major problem across the country. In cities like Guwahati, which have undergone haphazard growth leading to encroachment on water-bodies and hills and a poor solid waste disposal system, a comprehensive plan involving various agencies is a must,” Lt Gen D Anbu, GoC of the Army’s Tezpur-based Four Corps said.