High death toll during floods this year spurs disaster management authority to plan grassroots awareness in all village panchayats
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Sept 13: Spurred by the unusually high death toll in successive waves of floods since March this year, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) has now drawn up an elaborate plan to create awareness at the grassroots level. The emphasis is on safety measures to be taken during floods and other disasters, particularly to protect lives of children.
As part of the initiative, the ASDMA will conduct Gaon Panchayat Emergency Management Exercises (GPEMEx) on Friday simultaneously across all gaon panchayats (GPs) for the second time in the State. However, the exercise is being considered unique as it will focus on child safety during disasters. To be held in conjunction with the District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs), the campaign will cover 2,200 GPs.
As already reported by The Sentinel (on 30 August, 2017), the three spells of floods earlier had claimed 158 lives (which has now risen to 159 in the current spell) across Assam, the highest in the last 7 years. What has set alarm bells ringing is that 64 of the dead included children below 14 years, mostly by drowning. The second wave of floods in July claimed 35 children, while the third wave in August took a toll of 29 children.
“Zero casualty” has been made the theme of the GPEMEx, where Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL) personnel will also be involved to impart knowledge on dos and don’ts to avoid electrocutions during flood and water-logging. Grassroot level functionaries of the line departments will also be part of the campaign.
The one-day awareness campaign will include processions, art, quiz and debate competitions among students, search & rescue and fire safety demonstrations, mock drills and public meetings.
According to the ASDMA, district and revenue circle officials have initiated necessary steps to make the programme a success. Task forces have been created in each GP under the chairmanship of GP presidents. Presidents of all the Village Land Management and Conservation Committees (VLMCCs) in GPs, member secretaries of the VLMCCs, one school principal and 3/4 active and enthusiastic persons from each GP have been made members of the task forces.
The member secretaries of the villages where GPEMEx will be held have been made conveners of the taskforces. The ASDMA has released Rs 5,000 to each GP to conduct the exercise.
Meanwhile, ASDMA State Project Officer Rajib Prakash Barua told The Sentinel that many children died this year by drowning mostly due to “irresponsibility” on the part of parents and guardians.
“Some children died by drowning while fishing in turbulent waters, while others died while their mothers were busy tending to household chores. A few children drowned after falling off from boats and some even from their beds in flooded homes,” he explained.
Barua said the aim of the elaborate exercise is to provide guidance to the common man on safety measures to be adopted during floods, both for adults and children, and thereby avoid casualties.