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Steps to reduce disaster response time in State

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, March 1 - To improve coordination between different government agencies and act as first responders in case of any disaster, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) has appointed field officers in every revenue circles of the State. Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has approved appointment of one project officer in each district and three in the state headquarters for better management of any disaster.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, the state coordinator of the ASDMA, RP Baruah said that the State has 154 functioning revenue circles and one field coordinator each has been appointed for each of the circles. He revealed that the field officers were trained up in the Assam Administrative Staff College early this month and they have joined their duties in the revenue circles. As far as possible, persons who are aware of the problems of their localities are appointed.

The field officers of the revenue circles, apart from coordinating with all the concerned departments and agencies, will also train up local youths about the steps needed to be taken in case of any disaster and act as the first responders whenever any disaster or even an accident takes place. Baruah pointed out that very often, it takes time for the disaster response teams to reach the interior places and there have been instances where there were time gaps in reaching news to the district headquarters. But the revenue circle field officers will now immediately inform the deputy commissioner and other concerned officers in case of any such emergency so that prompt action can be taken. The field officers will also maintain coordination with the VDPs, local NGOs and the gaonburhas for taking immediate action in case of disasters.

Baruah said the deputy commissioners are the head of the district disaster management authorities, while one officer of the rank of additional deputy commissioner is the chief executive officer. However, the officers are often hard pressed as they have to carry out their day to day duties and the problem aggravates during major disasters like floods. The NDMA has approved appointment of one project officer in each district, while three more will be appointed in the ASDMA headquarters. The process of appointment will start soon and it will improve coordination between different departments and agencies engaged in disaster management.

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