The disaster management preparedness in Mohali leaves much to be desired. While the Mohali administration purchased some equipment required in case of disasters, it remains locked up in a store. The disaster management office is virtually shut down with most of the trained staff having been shifted to other departments.
As per sources, the office housing disaster management in Phase 1 was shut down by the state government in March last year. A handful of persons were provided training in disaster management after the mock drill that took place in 2013. However, gradually they were shifted to different departments. The files and the reports of the department are now lying with the District Revenue Office. In case of a disaster, it is the Mohali residents who would have to face the consequences.
Former disaster management coordinator of Mohali Shruti Aggarwal says, “The government did not even provide us with a sitting area or an office. Basic facilities like that of chairs, tables and fans were also not available in the beginning.”
The equipment required for the rescue work after a natural calamity is also not up to the mark. Emergency operation funds (EOC) have been used only once in two years of their being sanctioned. There were no funds for the salary of the staff and also for the project work which was required to improve the safety measure in the required areas which the department found to be at risk.
“The area around the DC office, Mohali, is one of the most risk-prone areas as there is a large number of old buildings in close proximity which can collapse easily if an earthquake with large magnitude hits the city and will cause a lot of damage,” adds Aggarwal.
A report was also compiled about the Disaster Management Plan of Mohali which gave a detailed account to the administration about the loopholes, risky areas and the most vulnerable areas in case of natural calamities like earthquake and floods. The report has included some schools as well with old buildings which need to be reassessed by the city administration to prevent them from accident during a disaster.
The software used for geographic information system which helps in tracking of locations, area mapping was also not provided to the staff which was working for the department. In fact, even the basic amenities like stationery, computers were also not provided.
The current available equipment with department is scarce. Items like gum boots, tents, torches, life jackets and search lights are very less in comparison to the area and the number of people living in the city. A list was sent by the disaster management officials to the government for the requirement of new equipment. The demands are yet to be fulfilled.
Deputy Commissioner Tejinder Pal Singh Sidhu says that Mohali was fully equipped to deal with any emergency. He adds that the district administration has all the equipment needed to deal with natural disasters.