Past experiences are key for solving future issues in Disaster Management: President IEI
An online webinar on winter weather patterns, experiences and initiative for Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh was organized by Institution of Engineers India, JK State Centre, Srinagar and National Institute of Disaster Management, in collaboration with Divisional Administration Kashmir and Divisional Administration Ladakh.
The webinar was inaugurated by President Institution of Engineers India Er. Narendra Singh and the valedictory function was chaired by Divisional Commissioner Ladakh Saugat Biswas. Inaugurating the webinar Narendra Singh said that Past Experiences are the key for solving future issues in disaster management. He said that nature has bestowed immense beauty to Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The snow-clad mountains, glaciers and freshwater streams add to its scenic beauty. He said that Winter is an essential part of our ecosystem and it helps recharge the accumulated snow and glaciers, however, it brings many challenges both for the Administrative machinery, as well as the general public. He lauded the role of Engineers as the backbone of the Administration, who ensure that essential services are kept functional even in the harshest winter, and assist in providing early weather warnings. He appreciated Engineers from various Departments, including Roads and Buildings, PMGSY, Mechanical Engineering, Municipal Corporations and Border Roads Organisation who ensure that snow is removed, in a timely and orderly manner, from all important Roads and Lanes and provide services to Hospitals and other important life-lines. He lauded Engineers from the Power Development sector who ensure that there is continued power supply, while Engineers from Public Health Engineering Department ensure continuity of drinking water supply, even in sub-zero temperatures and ensure continued facility of telecommunication, radio and Television etc.
Speaking on the occasion, Divisional Commissioner Ladakh Saugat Biswas said that Administration is making strenuous efforts to ensure that difficulties faced in winters are minimized. He said that there is need to decentralize Disaster Management response to block and Sub Division levels for immediate mobilization of men and machinery well in time. He said that multi hazard zonation is required to be done for identifying the vulnerable spots and prepositioning of resources for tackling emergency situations. He stressed on minimizing requirements of diesel generators for meeting the requirements of electricity during winters, and diesel vehicles initially in the town for select Government offices, which is the main cause of pollution and increases the carbon footprint. He said an initiative has been taken to make Ladakh carbon neutral, by introducing electric cars and buses in Ladakh and utilizing non-conventional power including solar and wind energy to meet the winter requirements.
Deputy Commissioner Kargil, Baseer ul Haq Choudhary said that District Administration is fully equipped up and are in close coordination with other departments to handle any issues related to winter and in case of any disaster. He said mechanism has already been put in place for ensuring dissemination of early warning alerts and warnings to the local masses through various forms of media, including social media.
Director IMD, Sonam Lotus said that the characteristic trends of temperature and precipitation varies annually and has direct impact on the socio-economic activities, therefore IMD has fully developed its infrastructure and established a robust mechanism of issuing alerts in case of any weather warnings.
HoD Chest Medicine Dr Naveed Nazir Shah emphasized that winter burden on the health care system is not only affected by increased incidence of infectious diseases but also by non-infectious conditions. He said there is possibility of resurgence of COVID-19, as well as influenza epidemic, besides disruption of health and social care systems, if the SOPs issued by authorities are not acted upon.
Additional Commissioner Kashmir Bilal Ahmad Bhat said that following the last year's experience the Divisional Administration is fully geared up and has already taken appropriate measures and put in place plans for dealing with any situation.
Welcoming the participants, Er. Aamir Ali, Chairman IEI JK State Centre, Srinagar said that the aim of the webinar was to facilitate and act as a bridge between the Administration and public, so that preparedness measures taken for the upcoming winter season could be known to the public. He informed that a multi hazard vulnerability Assessment of J&K and Ladakh is being undertaken by RMSI under the World bank Funded Jhelum & Tawi Flood Recovery Project.
Dr Aamir Ali Khan from NIDM during his address said that the winter season is a challenge for the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh as there are issues related to connectivity of roads and air link. He said that Electricity as well as Telecommunications gets disrupted in severe winters. However, he appreciated the administrations of both J&K and Ladakh for their preparedness measures and mobilising the resources in advance and stockpiling logistics so that people do not suffer.
The webinar was moderated by Er M. Aaquib Sultana Waheed Deva who highlighted the difficulties being faced by the public and the departments during the harsh winter seasons. Miss Yogita garbyal Young Professional NIDM facilitated the webinar on behalf of NIDM. A short documentary on effects of climate change and issues of winter, directed and prepared by Er. Abdul Rasheed Bhat from EMMRC, was also screened on the occasion.