What Gujarat really did for Uttarakhand flood relief

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Niticentral Staff16 Jul 2013

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What Gujarat really did for Uttarakhand flood reliefGujarat is no stranger to natural calamities. The 2001, the Bhuj earthquake killed around 20,000 people, injured another 167,000 and destroyed nearly 400,000 homes. This bitter experience inspired the Gujarat Government to set up Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) which has implemented world class practices in disaster-preparedness and mitigation. This deep experience of Gujarat was put to use during the devastating Uttarakhand floods. Apart from availability of disaster management expertise, a significant number of Gujaratis undertake pilgrimage and rescuing them from the disaster was an equally important priority for Gujarat Government.

With this concern for sharing Gujarat’s expertise with stranded pilgrims from the entire country, Gujarat Government started relief assistance early and systematically. Heavy rains from June 14-17 inflicted significant damage in Uttarakhand. Gujarat State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC) established direct contact with Uttarakhand Administration on June 18 to ascertain the extent of damage. On June 19, the Gujarat Cabinet passed a resolution expressing support (including a Rs 2 crore immediate cash relief, later augmented by another Rs 3 crore) and the very same day Narendra Modi spoke to his Uttarakhand counterpart Vijay Bahuguna offering any kind of support required to help in rescue operations. It’s important to note the speed of this offer which was also provided in the spirit of Indians helping fellow Indians in a very open ended manner and with no strings attached.

What Gujarat really did for Uttarakhand flood reliefOn the very next day (June 20), a large senior team including 3 IAS, 2 GAS, 1 IPS and 1 IFS officers landed in Uttarakhand. Realising the limitations of relying only on Government machinery, the State team approached many local organisations and NGOs for coordinating relief work. The relief control room was also set up in Shantikunj Gayatri Parivar, an NGO in Haridwar.

Further the team spread into multiple groups to provide, crucial multi-locational and multi-role support. Groups were stationed in main exit camps (Haridwar and Guptakashi) while another was stationed at the central control station in the state capital Dehradun. Finally a dedicated group was formed solely for external coordination with Uttarakhand State authorities, Central Government, relatives of victims, NGOs etc. Smaller teams were setup at Dehradun airport, Sahastradhara Air base and Rishikesh bus station. In this way, all the crucial locations were covered while ensuring a robust liaison in a cooperative spirit with other authorities. The focus remained on helping all victims in the best possible manner.

What Gujarat really did for Uttarakhand flood reliefThe relief work was also done in a very comprehensive manner. Boarding and lodging was provided to displaced people and transportation (including air lifts) were provided to the most grievously injured. In total the team managed to send 2,890 people back home. Additionally, medical camps including mobile medical vans were setup – all these facilities were provided to all injured and sick without discrimination. In total, Gujarat Medical Team screened 12,266 pilgrims and treated 1,396 victims. The team also acted as a central information registry for inquiries from relatives of missing persons as well as on people located in the camps. It was able to coordinate and track back many missing people by coordination and passing on information to Uttarakhand Government, while also assisting in procedures like filing of FIR for missing people.

A unique relief effort was focused on providing carefully designed relief kits en-masse. Relief experts designed complete family relief kits with 43 essential items from food, blankets, torch, clothes, utensils, stove etc. A total of 31,416 relief kits were supplied by Gujarat Government out of which 27,934 were complete family relief kits. Further, apart from supplying the kits, Gujarat Government further sent officials to verify the distribution and usage of the kits. This special effort again illustrates the end to end meticulous planning of the Gujarat relief effort.

What Gujarat really did for Uttarakhand flood reliefAll this effort was supervised and guided from the very top with the Chief Minister Narendra Modi himself reaching the relief camp on June 21. His on the ground presence further inspired and focused the relief effort and his approachability strengthened the trust of people. There were many cases of relief requests from multiple States being asked on twitter and being coordinated directly by the Chief Minister. In addition, the mobile numbers of the entire relief team was shared on media and publicly, resulting in extremely high approachability. Such measures, directly helped soothe the victims and their relatives in their time of need.

The can-do spirit of the rescue effort can be further illustrated by two cases. Due to floods, a helipad at Jangle-chatti was damaged. The industrious and rapidly moving rescue team prepared new helipad 200 metres away from the previous by cutting trees and removing electric poll resumed the evacuation. In another case, after 12 days of flood, the possibility of finding victims decreased significantly. The Gujarat team received information on one Rankubhai Dayabhai of Junagadh stuck in Guptakashi. With continuous follow up with the media and DM Rudraprayag, his transportation from Guptakashi to Hardwar was arranged. He was then sent to Ahmedabad by bus along with a Medical Team. In all this, the eagerness of the team to put out all stops to rescue and serve the last missing man is very evident.

What Gujarat really did for Uttarakhand flood reliefIn all, the entire relief team remained on ground till July 2 (13 days) post which a skeleton team was left to coordinate dispatch of relief material. Gujarat team continued to send relief material post that.

The effort of the Gujarat team is a clear example of going above and beyond the call of duty in the cause of helping fellow Indians with all the skills and resources available at one’s disposal. The team made sure that they coordinated at the right levels, remained approachable, designed suitable relief effort types and utilised partnerships with multiple organisations. Their effort to make sure a fast and systematic relief was provided to all and the never say die attitude is a shining example of Indians helping each other.

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  • venkat

    Amazing effort but media blackout is disgusting the worst part is disyortionof facts

  • narendra varma

    I extol the efforts of Modi government for rendering it services in mitigating the plights of the unfortunate victims of the uttrakhand disaster. In fact it is an eye opener news which has been washed out in the din of Rambo-Dambo episode staged by the paid-up media to distract public attention from total failure of the UKD government. What was more disgusting was the fact that when hundreds of public spirited citizens and NGOs were engaged in rendering selfless services to poor victims, UKD government was busy in spending lakhs of rupees in publishing full size cut outs of self-praise and those of its mentors siting cosily in New Delhi. Mr. Man Mohan Singh just made an Ariel survey of the marooned UKD and rushed to J&K next day to inaugurate Jammu-Banihal train service as if that colossal human tragedy had made no impression upon him. This was the height of insensitivity towards his countrymen, ever shown by any head of the government anywhere in the world towards his subject. He being himself chairperson of NDRM Organisation, which has been proved to be nothing but a green pasture for favourite retd. bureaucrats, should have owned the responsibility of the utter failure of the NDRM especially when ISSRO had issued forewarning as early as June16,2013 to all concerned organisations /authorities including NDRM. If we sincerely want to pay homage to those innocent pilgrims who fell prey to the criminal negligence of the State/Central government and want to do justice to those hapless victims an Inquiry commission comprising five members consisting of experts of various fields such as Environment, Seismology etc under the chairmanship of a retd Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India should instituted to submit its report in a limited time frame to find out the cause of the greatest human tragedy since independence of our nation and also fix responsibility of the persons / organisations who are responsible for this man-made tragedy, so that guilty should be punished for dereliction of their duties and remedial measure could be taken to avoid recurrence such tragedy in future. Mere distribution of a few lakhs rupee to those victims or their next kith and kin is not enough; rather it is grand design of the utter hopeless UKD government to wash out its hands from its monumental failure.

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