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After string of earthquakes in Ladakh, response system reviewed

Amid a string of mild to moderate intensity earthquakes felt in Ladakh region over the last few days, Divisional Commissioner Ladakh Saugat Biswas stressed on the requirements of readiness by all relevant departments of the UT Administration and also the Army, Air Force, paramilitary and the BRO.

Speaking at a meeting convened to discuss management of seismic risk, Biswas underlined the importance of taking up preparedness and mitigation measures timely to cut the risk at every possible level.  

District Magistrate/Chairman DDMA Leh Sachin Kumar Vaishya and District Magistrate/Chairman DDMA Kargil Baseer-ul-Haq Chaudhary apprised their preparedness in terms of the existing machinery, and manpower deployment for meeting a situation of emergency.

Officers of the Police, Army, BRO, HIMANK, VIJAYAK, Air Force, 8 Mountain Div, UTDRF, Health, Power, Food, R&B, PWD, and BSNL apprised their stage of readiness for facing a disaster. Various coordination issues were also addressed during the meeting.

DIG Ladakh Police B.S. Tuti briefed about the preparedness of Ladakh Police and Civil Defense, Home Guards and also gave his inputs in regarding vulnerability mapping, use of GIS and other contemporary means of search and rescue.

Divisional Commissioner Biswas issued directions to both the DCs for immediate review of the existing disaster preparedness plans in their districts and recheck the readiness of inventory at each of deployment location.

Decentralised deployment of equipments with the UTDRF was ordered with a view to servicing every vulnerable location. Emergency centers/Incident Command Centers will also be operationalised by the District Magistrates immediately.

With a view to having uninterrupted communication during any eventuality it was decided that every Sub-Divisional Magistrate and Tehsildars be provided with satellite phones. 

Divisional Commissioner directed for modernisation of disaster mitigation processes and asked the concerned officers to procure winter rescue vests, modern communication devices, lights, machinery and equipment immediately with a view to professionalize disaster management in addition to community halls or shelter homes, and food availability along with other basic facilities was also discussed in detail.

Detailed discussion took place on associated disasters such as landslides, avalanches, flash floods, and fire and directions were issued for the mapping of vulnerable sites, deployment plan, evacuation process, and sharing of information for ease of rapid access to places for prompt action, in case of an eventuality.  

Biswas also sought preparedness on the medical and health sector where the chair was updated by the Director Health Dr. Phunchok Angchuk that the medical team is ready with the available equipment and additional medicines. The chair gave directions for early assessment of required inventories and stressed for ensuring decentralized deployment of ambulances and equip them with basic health facilities including heating systems.

Biswas was also updated about the readiness and action plan of SDRF in case of any untoward situation. Wide discussion on training of volunteers was also made where the chair gave directions to SP, UTDRF Kameshwar Puri to involve Sarpanches and Lambardars at the grass root level to mobilise volunteers for training purposes which would prove highly useful during any disaster situation.

It was decided that both the District Magistrates will commence an extensive publicity drive to make people aware of the safety measures to be followed in case of an earthquake.  

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