VULNERABILITY AND PREPAREDNESS

Though mild, yet today’s earthquake tremors led to panicky situation in Bhaderwah and its adjoining areas with people running helter skelter on the Ramzan fasting day, especially in view of the probability of severe earthquakes striking the J&K region as warned by various eminent geologists from time to time. Besides, the government’s preparedness to face natural calamities has most of the times been questioned by the people of this state for reasons well fathomed given the past experience of the state be it earthquakes, floods or other natural disasters. While Jammu and Kashmir is bestowed with mesmerizing scenic beauty especially holding in its lap the Switzerland of Asia or the Paradise on earth it has also been the victim of natural disasters in the form of earthquakes and floods that exposed the tall claims made by the earlier governments regarding the Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Management despite the State having been flooded with the funds for the purpose by the Centre. In this regard social activists have been putting in all sorts of efforts to ensure that the government comes up with a proactive strategy to face any such eventuality. Even a Public Interest Litigation had come up before the J&K High Court seeking direction to the State to constitute a committee under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary with members of concerned fields to review the preparedness of the state Government with regard to the earth quake and to carry out all the allied processes. From this it is quite clear that the preparedness on this front is far from satisfactory despite the scientists having expressed apprehension of a massive earthquake in this region mainly in the Reasi area of Jammu province. In such a situation the fret and fear of the people of this state can be fully justified. Therefore it becomes imperative for the present government to ensure the best Disaster Preparedness and Management Plan for the State so that there is no scope for the lapses as were witnessed during the recent floods. The question here arises that why the people need to panic or live in fear psychosis in this state. The answer to this is undoubtedly that the successive state governments have failed to restore confidence of the people who had to bear the brunt during the previous disasters. Besides this, the rumours making rounds every other day add to the agony of the already scared people. While the people have genuine reasons to justify their fear, the Govt can’t escape its responsibility in this regard. It is pertinent to mention here that misgovernance and inaptitude of the erstwhile administration especially viz-a-viz disaster preparedness and management during the floods, besides rehabilitation thereafter led to the exit of NC-Congress coalition government. It is high time that the incumbent government streamlines its Disaster Management System with main focus on the preparedness aspect. It needs to exhibit utmost competency to deal with available warnings and information followed by preventive and anticipative actions well in time. In the mean time the Judiciary will also continue to issue appropriate directions in the cases whenever approached for ensuring effective preparedness of the government to counter the challenges on account of such eventualities.