New Delhi: After the devastating earthquake in Nepal, Delhi government today decided to conduct mock drills to check preparedness of the government agencies to deal with disasters and also chalked out a disaster management plan having broad guidelines.
The move comes after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today held a review meeting to discuss the preparedness of the national capital in dealing with natural and man-made disasters.
According to senior government officials, government has prepared state disaster management plan and district disaster management plans are also being prepared for all the eleven district.
State disaster management plan talks of broad guidelines with standard operating procedure.
Official claims that three districts (New Delhi, North-East and South-East) have prepared the plans while rest are in the final phase.
“Disaster management plan specifies the role of each government agencies like municipal corporation and police,” chief secretary KK Sharma said.
According to the government, manpower is required to deal with any disaster and in the last five years 19,000 civic defense personnel got registered with the government.
“We have got 11 Quick Response Teams (QRT) in all the 11 district and are planning to add more. We have also got secured TETRA communication network in case mobile network fails in any disaster,” Sharma said.
Government has 24/7 emergency operation centre with number 1077. In any disaster, people can contact this number and response plan is immediately made and concern agencies are alerted, the officer said.
Claiming that Delhi is ready to deal with any calamity, Divisional Commissioner Ashwani Kumar said,”We have 10 well equipped disaster management centres in Delhi with a variety of safety requirement.”
According to officials, soon Delhi CM and LG will hold a meeting on strengthening disaster management plan. “We are going to strengthen the existing infrastructure and will adopt global practices. We will interact with expert and consult existing plan with them and review it. We will have mock drill to check effectiveness of state plan and make it a regular activity,” Sharma said.
However, experts claim most buildings in Delhi may not meet requirements on seismic resistance and are vulnerable. Vulnerable areas are unauthorised and resettlement colonies, where constriction is been done beyond building by-laws. These areas are concentrated in East, North-east and old walled city areas which are vulnerable to disaster.
“Delhi has grown slowly and has expanded in residential and commercial structure. Old buildings were not prepared for earthquake, but most of the new buildings are complying with seismic zone IV norms,” Sharma said.
Talking about safety in unauthorised colony Sharma said, “We have a challenge that we cannot demolish it (unauthorised colonies), but our aim is not to keep resident of this area unsafe. In order to regularise them there is a long process to enhance their safety, which is why we are taking time.”
According to the officials, in state disaster management plan government is incorporating unauthorised colonies and the plan will be finalised in six to eight weeks. Draft plan is already functional and teams have already started working on it. Meanwhile, state disaster fund is still under preparation, official said.
Government is working on blueprint in making residents of unauthorised colonies safe during any calamity. “In these vulnerable areas we are strengthening our civil defense mechanism. We are identifying building like school, community centers where people can be moved and rehabilitated in case of any calamity. Moreover, we are marking disaster lanes which can be kept free for vehicular movement,” Ashwini Kumar said.
According to officials, old buildings can be retrofitted but it is challenging. Even Delhi police headquarter and PWD headquarter are not retrofitted.
“Delhi secretariat has not been retrofitted yet as it is an old design. IIT Chennai conducted the study and made recommendation but it is challenging as it is a living building. We are trying to make such changes.
“Delhi police headquarter, PWD headquarter by IIT Kanpur and found it to be very challenging task as it is a fully operation building. All the building which are old need retrofication but all CPWD and PWD buildings are much above the norms,” said a senior official.
Vulnerability of a building also depends on the need and importance of it. In Delhi most of the building and hospitals are old and Delhi falls under seismic zone VI. New buildings are now built according to seismic zone and are earthquake resistance.