Disaster Managament Current Affairs

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Country’s First Automatic Coastal Warning for Disasters to come up in Odisha

From July, Odisha will commission the ambitious Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS) to warn the vast population residing along its 480 km-long coast in the event of the occurrence of natural disasters like a tsunami or a cyclone. Andhra Pradesh is also reportedly developing such system to alert the people in case of natural calamities.

Salient Highlights

The warning can be disseminated just by pressing a single button from a control room in the State capital in the event of the occurrence of natural disasters. It would trigger loud sirens simultaneously from towers at 122 locations including tourist destinations, fish landing centres and coastal habitations situated across the state. The sound emanating from the towers can be heard in localities up to a radius of 1.5 km. Thus, Odisha become the first state to have developed an automatic public address system that can be activated across the state. 

The towers will be installed in 22 blocks under six coastal districts such as Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Puri and Ganjam

The EWDS comprises of Satellite-Based Mobile Data Voice Terminals (SBMDVT), Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), Mass Messaging System (MMS) and Universal Communication Interface (UCI) for inter-operability among different communication technologies.

The project at an estimated cost of ₹ 82 crore will be implemented with assistance from the World Bank.

The EWDS will help the people to move to safer places before government agencies commenced evacuation.

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NDMA conducts unique state level mock exercise on forest fire in Uttarakhand

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has recently carried out first-of-its-kind State-level mock exercise on forest fire. The main objective of the mock exercise is to assess the efficacy of preparedness and response mechanisms available with the forest department and the district administration.

The exercise was conducted by NDMA in collaboration with the State Government. The exercise was conducted across all 13 districts covering different types of forests. Various agencies, such as fire, forest, Army, health, police, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and civil defence took part in the drill.

Mock exercise on forest fire in Uttarakhand is significant as nearly 70% of the State’s geographical area comes under forests and incidents of forest fires are frequent.

NDMA so far has carried out more than 550 mock exercises across the country to improve preparedness and response mechanisms for various disaster situations.

Forest fires in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is known for human-induced forest fires since a long time. In 2016, the pine forests of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh caught fire. Most of the fires in Uttarakhand happen in the Chir pine (Pinus Rroxburghii) forests because leaves of this conifer tree catch fire easily. The forest fires in Uttarakhand have been predominantly intentional for the purpose of collection of forest resources such as resin, sal seeds, honey, timber etc. To collect resin easily, the surface fires are lit so that pine needles can be removed.

NDMA

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister of India, is the apex Body for Disaster Management in India. It is responsible for laying down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters.

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Parliamentary committee report highlights alarming rise in forest fires

According to report submitted by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, there is alarming rise in forest fires across India.

It says that the number of forest fires have touched 24,817 in 2016 from 15,937 fires in 2015. It shows alarming rise 55% in the past year.

The report primarily focuses on the prevention and containing of fires in the Himalayan forests spread across Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

Findings of Committee
  • There is increase in forest fires is seen even though 2015 was considered a drought year. But there is decline in frequency of forest fires by around 16%.
  • The three central States Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha contribute a third of the forest fires.
  • Madhya Pradesh has seen a nearly ten-fold increase in forest fires, from just 294 in 2015 to more than 2,600 in 2016.
  • In Himachal and Uttarakhand, over 17,502 acres have been ravaged in 2016 due to forest fires, a rise of over 171%.
  • Large number of posts of front line forest staff were lying vacant, while fire-fighting equipment is rudimentary in many cases.
Recommendations
  • National policy on managing forest fires must be framed.
  • Replacing pine reserve forests areas with “broad-leaf” plants.
  • Procurement of sweeping machines to clear roadsides of Chir pine needles.
  • Advocating large-scale incentives and programmes (including under MNREGA) to collect pines for use as fuel, and other incineration.
Background

The committee was formed after a series of devastating forest fires earlier in the year 2016 including the prolonged one that had charred 4,000 hectares of forest land across 13 districts of Uttarakhand in May 2016. The committee was headed by Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Choudhary.

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