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Odisha: A leading State in Disaster Management in India

Bhubaneswar, May 30: On account of its geo-climatic conditions, our State is vulnerable to multiple disasters. The State encounters one or more major calamities like flood, cyclone or drought every year. Not a single year has passed in which the State has not any major disaster. 

The BJD Government came to power just after the Super Cyclone of 1999. For want of adequate preparedness, people in affected area of the Super Cyclone in the year 1999 badly suffered for a pretty long time. Keeping that in view, our priority was to set up a disaster management system that will alleviate the people from distress on account of natural disasters. The Government have accordingly taken well thought-out measures to make Odisha a disaster resilient State. It is now a leading State in disaster management in the entire country.

The Government of Odisha has taken a number of Disaster Risk Reduction and capacity building initiatives to reduce the vulnerability of the people to different disasters. As a result of improved preparedness, the State has been able to successfully manage the major calamities like Floods of 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008 & 2011, Drought of 2010, 2011 & 2015 and Very Severe Cyclonic Storms Phailin of 2013 and Hudhud of 2014.In sharp contrast with the situation in 1999, number of human death due to Very Severe Cyclonic Storm ‘Phailin’ could be restricted to 21 whereas close to 10,000 people had lost their lives due to Super Cyclone of 1999. This has brought glory to the state both from within the country and globally. For this rare achievement, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Odisha Naveen Patnaik was felicitated by the Special Representative of the Secretary General of United Nations, Margaret Walstom at Bhubaneswar. Similarly, Special Trophy was handed out to the then Minister, Revenue & Disaster Management and the Special Relief Commissioner in the India Today Conclave at New Delhi. The World Bank has also highly praised the action of the Government of Odisha. However, we have not been complacent with such praises and prizes but rather are making concerted efforts to strengthen our disaster mitigation activities.‘Mission Zero Casualty’ has remained the policy of the state government for all disasters.

National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project:
The State Government is implementing the World Bank assisted National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project covering 6 coastal districts and areas adjoining Chilika Lake in Khordha district. The estimated cost of the project is Ra.702.20 crore. Under this project, all the 154 Multipurpose Cyclone Shelterstaken up for construction have been completed. Besides, work of 138 roads (207.6 km)out of 143 all-weather roads (218.5km) to connect the Cyclone Shelters, and 53.715 km out of 58.225 kmsaline embankment taken up under this project have already been completed.
Similarly, post Phailin, 162 more cyclone shelters and 100 all weather connecting roads have been taken up under NCRMP (Additional Financing) at a financial outlay of Rs.478.27 crore. In the mean time, work of 89 cyclone shelters and 90 roads (138.66 km) is complete. The project is likely to be completed very soon.

Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS):
The Government is implementing the Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS) for Last Mile Connectivity as one of the Components (Component-A) of the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) under World Bank assistance. In 22 blocks under 6 coastal districts (Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Puri & Ganjam) of Odisha. The projectaims at establishing a fool-proof communication system to address the existing gap of disseminating disaster warning up to the community level especially for cyclone and tsunami. EWDS comprises of technologies like Satellite Based Mobile Data Voice Terminals (SBMDVT), Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), Mass Messaging System, Alert Siren System at 122 locations and Universal Communication Interface (UCI) for interoperability among different communication technologies. People in the coastal areas will be alerted through these 122 alert siren towers and thereby will be able save their lives and property. The project is expected to be completed by 31st July 2017. This project is first of kind in the entire country.

Odisha Disaster Recovery Project:
For augmenting disaster resilient houses, Odisha Disaster Recovery Project has been taken up by the Govt. with World Bank assistance for the people living in vulnerable condition within 5km from the coastline Phailin affected districts of Ganjam and Khordha districts. Under this project, construction of 16572 houses and required public infrastructure has been taken up for construction. Out of this, construction of 14563 houses have already been completed and occupied by the beneficiaries. Provision of toilet, 24-hour water supply and electricity connection is made to each house. The estimated cost of the project is Rs.115.00 crore.

Heat Wave Mitigation Plan:
The State Government has been taking all required measures to encounter the heat wave situation in the State. Whereas 2042 people had lost their lives due to heat wave in the 1998, the death toll due to heat wave has been substantially brought down through enhanced preparedness and awareness raising measures. The Heat Wave Management Action Plan prepared by the Government of Odisha has been highly praised at the National level.

Management of Drought-2015:
The Government has successfully managed the severe drought situation the State encountered during the year 2015. Henceforth, scientific parameters like rainfall, satellite pictures of crop conditions, Soil Moisture Index, etc shall be taken into consideration for assessment and declaration of drought. The Government is taking steps to install Automatic Rain Gauge/ Automatic Weather Station at each Gram Panchayat of the State at an expenditure of around Rs.100 crore.

Drought Monitoring Cell:
The Government has set up a Drought Monitoring Cell in OSDMA for proper monitoring and management of drought.

Chief Minister has accorded top priority to the disaster management in the State. We will continue in 
this endeavour and make every effort to make Odisha a disaster resilient State.  

Additional Points
Odisha is the first State in the entire country to constitute a dedicated disaster management authority (i.e. Odisha State Disaster Management Authority) to look after the disaster mitigation activities. It also coordinates and supervises disaster reconstruction activities. Subsequently, Gujarat and several other States constituted their State Disaster Management Authorities in line with OSDMA.

It is also the first State to raise its own Disaster Response Force. The State created its own disaster response force called Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) since the year 2001. Ten Units of ODRAF which are located in strategic locations across the state is taking care of required search and rescue operations and other disaster management activities in the event of disasters. They have been provided with all modern equipment and training to accomplish the task. In addition to the existing 10 units of ODRAF at Cuttack, Chatrapur, Korapt, Jharsuguda, Balasore, Baripada, Paradip, Bhubaneswar, Bolangir and Rourkela, the State Government has sanctioned 10 more units. 500 personnel have already been selected and provided with basic training. New units will be pressed into service during the ensuing cyclone/ flood season. 

Learning from the experience in past disasters, the State Government has taken steps to construct a number of cyclone proof shelters along the coast where people can stay during any cyclone to save their lives. The State Government had instituted a study through IIT, Kharagpur to find out the number of cyclone shelter required in the coastal areas and accordingly, IIT after detailed survey had suggested construction of 512 Multi-purpose Cyclone Shelters in areas within 10km from the coast to save the lives of the people during cyclone. However, the Government has so far taken up 568 Multi-purpose Cyclone Shelters out of which 489 shelters have been completed and handed over to the Cyclone Shelter Management and Maintenance Committees constituted at each shelter 

Similarly, the Government has also taken up construction of 311 Multi-purpose flood shelters out of which 247 shelter buildings have been constructed as on date and shelter level Committees.

Various volunteer groups have been formed at each shelter level to undertake specific disaster response tasks such as search & rescue, evacuation, shelter management, first aid, etc. Training has been provided to 50 such volunteers at each shelter level. Now these cyclone shelters are hubs of disaster management activities.

Community mobilisation has taken place in the State in a big way under Disaster Risk Mitigation programme. Community is now more informed about disaster risks and the technique to get respite from it.The state implemented community based disaster preparedness programme covering almost all the vulnerable districts with assistance of the Government of India and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Under this programme village specific Disaster Management Plans were prepared, Community Volunteer Groups were selected to carry out different disaster response activities and required training was provided to such volunteers. The state has also initiated school safety programme.

Mock Drills on Response Activities for different Disasters like, Flood, Cyclone, Tsunami, etc. are regularly organized in the State. Mock drill on management Cyclone & Flood is conducted on 19th June every year. Response drill is also conducted before onset of approaching cyclone. Tsunami Mock drills conducted in 328 coastal villages within 1.5 km of coast in 6 coastal districts under IOWAVE on 23rd October 2016.

In the technology front, multilayer communication systems have been set up for disaster management.  60 satellite phones have been procured and provided to all District Collectors, ODRAF units and key disaster managers. Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is functioning at the State HQRS. on  24X7. Similar EOCs function in various departments and districts during disaster seasons.

As per the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the State Government has constituted the State Disaster Management Authority, the State Executive Committee and the District Disaster Management Authority in each district. Disaster Management Plans have been prepared at the State and District levels as per the provisions of the Act and approved by the State Disaster Management Authority. The related Departments of the Government have also prepared their Disaster Management Plans. All these plans are reviewed every year and suitably revised.

Massive awareness generation programmes have been taken up throughout the state. 29th October is being observed as the State Disaster Preparedness Day. Short video films have been prepared for awareness development of common people on Heat Wave, Cyclone Shelter Management, Healthcare and Sanitation, Food and Nutrition Community Based Disaster Preparedness, ODRAF, Management of Floods and Embankment construction. 

NGO Coordination cells have been promoted at block, district and state level. There is regular interaction with the Inter Agency Group comprising of 22 INGOS, NGOs and UN Agencies for disaster management related activities.

The Government has declared 8 disasters i.e. Lightning, Heat Wave, Whirlwind, Tornado, Heavy Rain, Boat Accidents, Drowning and Snakebite as State Specific Disasters. People affected by these disasters now get all benefits under SDRF Norms like other disasters approved by the Government of India.

The Government is maintaining complete transparency in the relief administration. The list 19 lakh and odd beneficiaries who received agriculture input subsidy have been uploaded in the official website of the State Government. Similarly, the Collectors have been given instruction to upload the details of all beneficiaries, who receive any relief assistance, in the website of the respective District Administration.

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