From forming the primary of its type catastrophe administration authority and catastrophe response drive, bolstering infrastructure to taking a pledge of ‘zero casualty’, the coastal state has not solely diminished its catastrophe fatality fee to double digits, however has additionally been an instance to different states
“I’m certain you can provide form and course to a brand new autonomous establishment which is being arrange,” recommended then Odisha chief secretary DP Bagchi to his colleague within the state forms one morning in 2001. “I’ll strive sir,” replied senior IAS officer Aurobindo Behera.
Quickly, Behera as the primary full-time managing director was constructing the Odisha Catastrophe Mitigation Authority (later renamed as Odisha State Catastrophe Administration Authority), the primary of its type company in India, brick by brick. The Nationwide Catastrophe Administration Authority (NDMA) got here later.
Over time, the OSDMA has gone from power to power. And within the course of Odisha has carved out a standalone identification because the best-equipped state to handle disasters. It’s thought of as a job mannequin, in India and internationally as nicely, for environment friendly preparedness and swift response to disasters.
Final week, there have been apprehensions as to how the federal government would handle the extreme tropical cyclone Yaas forward of its landfall in Balasore district. For, the state was within the grip of COVID’s horrible second wave, with day by day infections hovering over 10,000 circumstances. Nonetheless, a lot to everybody’s shock, round 6 lakh folks had been evacuated from doable hazard pockets to cyclone shelters. Curiously, COVID norms of social distancing and use of masks was ensured to a big diploma.
Classes from previous cyclones and OSDMA
Yaas is just not an remoted case. Between the 1999 tremendous cyclone and Yaas, Odisha has witnessed landfalls of a lot of very extreme cyclonic storms – Phailin in 2013, Hudhud in 2014, Fani in 2019. The state additionally been severely hit by Titli in 2018, Bulbul in 2019 and Amphan in 2020.
Nonetheless, the coastal state has not solely managed the disasters effectively, however has additionally succeeded in decreasing fatalities to double digits. Whereas Phailin affected over 1.1 million folks and precipitated damages of roughly ₹4,240 crore, the ‘rarest of uncommon’ summer time cyclone Fani’s gusty winds of near 200 km wreaked havoc in 14 districts, leading to an estimated injury of over ₹24,176 crores. Armed with the India Meteorological Division’s (IMD) correct cyclone warning system nicely prematurely, the state carried out large evacuation measures earlier than cyclones. In case of Fani, the entire evacuation quantity crossed a file 1.4 million. The dying toll on account of Fani stood at 64.
It wouldn’t be unsuitable to attribute your entire credit score for Odisha’s success in managing cyclones and different pure calamities together with flood and draughts to OSDMA.
“Each catastrophe must be seen as a chance for constructing again higher and Odisha has achieved precisely the identical after the 1999 Tremendous Cyclone. In some ways, the OSDMA has influenced and redesigned the catastrophe administration structure of the nation,” says well-known catastrophe administration skilled NM Prusty.
Trying again at OSDMA’s nascent days, Behera says, the specialised outfit registered underneath the Societies Registration Act, was meant to chop brief bureaucratic red-tapism and stay versatile. Quite a lot of emphasis was placed on each, hardware-civil development together with roads, specifically designed multipurpose cyclone shelters, procurement of machineries and gear, and likewise software-human assets growth, coaching of presidency and NGO personnel and most significantly, communities on the bottom. By the way, OSDMA’s group based mostly catastrophe administration grew to become a pioneering initiative.
“The target was to make it a nodal and coordinating company for catastrophe administration with a variety of emphasis on preparedness to face disasters and create confidence among the many folks and the federal government equipment that we’re nicely outfitted,” Behera says. He provides that OSDMA is supposed to be a nodal company, working on a regular basis with numerous authorities departments and district-level administrations.
“Any institution-building offers a variety of satisfaction. As a result of, if the muse is robust, its utility and sustainability is ensured and warranted as nicely,” he says.
By the way, OSDMA was born at a time when Odisha was nonetheless labouring to limp again to normalcy put up the devastations of the 1999 Tremendous Cyclone, which killed 10,000 folks whereas the magnitude of loss to livelihood and destruction was unimaginable.
“In Bhubaneswar we couldn’t talk with one another, whereas Jagatsinghpur, the worst affected district, barely 70 km away, was reduce off from the state capital for seven to eight days,” remembers then income secretary, Jugal Mohapatra.
Shaken by the cyclone, the federal government’s prime equipment determined that the catastrophe wouldn’t be allowed to occur once more. Mohapatra says, with Odisha being liable to frequent pure disasters together with floods and droughts, it was determined to have a specialised outfit to deal with challenges arising out of such calamities. “It was a collective determination and the goal was to construct up long-term resilience from all disasters,” says Mohapatra. Each, Behera and Mohapatra, are retired, now.
Although the state had the particular aid commissioner, his job was restricted to aid, restoration and disbursement of funds to completely different departments for restore works; put up 1999 catastrophe, the consensus opinion was to widen the scope to catastrophe preparedness and resilience.
Preliminary steps not a cakewalk
Nonetheless, OSDMA’s journey forward was removed from being straightforward. There have been immense challenges. Financing the initiative was one among them. “We had been virtually broke, there was completely no cash. We had been negotiating with the World Financial institution for catastrophe restoration assist,” Mohapatra shares.
Based on Behera, the state utilised ₹300 crore (help) from the worldwide financial institution in actions like constructing of specifically designed multipurpose cyclone shelters, strengthening of river embankments and laying roads. In your entire work, emphasis was given to hurry of execution, procurement and high quality management.
And it was just the start.
By the way, barely in lower than 4 months after the Tremendous Cyclone, there was a regime change within the state. The Congress authorities headed by Giridhar Gamang was changed by a contemporary face in Odisha politics heading an toddler regional outfit, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Quickly, Mohapatra was Naveen’s principal secretary.
“The chief minister gave the forms the mandate to construct up a system to insulate the state from pure disasters. It was a technocratic train and there was no meddling from any quarter,” says Mohapatra, including, “When the chief minister is backing the initiative, it’s not tough to maneuver forward.” Based on Behera, the chief secretary and OSDMA’s governing physique chairman Bagchi allowed him the flexibleness to pick his workforce and take fast choices. “It was presumed the CM’s tacit assist was all the time there,” agrees Behera. He says that he bought all assist from related departments: house, finance and income.
Zero casualty mantra, start of ODRAF
It’s extensively held that one of many largest achievements of Naveen throughout his over two-decade-long uninterrupted rule has been in making Odisha the most effective disaster-prepared state in India. It has ensured him wealthy political dividends throughout polls, too.
Prusty claims the ‘Zero Casualty’ strategy of Odisha authorities created international finest follow norms for catastrophe preparedness and response not solely within the nation however internationally as nicely.
Having seen by way of the preliminary huddles, OSDMA progressed forward with a mission. It ready catastrophe administration plan for the state and nudged all departments and district administrations to organize comparable plans. Yearly the plan is up to date. Whereas, each catastrophe’s sample and nuances had been studied and the response processes documented, a steady and big capacity-building train at completely different ranges was undertaken. Most care was taken in the direction of strengthening the capability constructing among the many first responders – communities and particularly the youth. Within the course of, a e-book on catastrophe administration for varsity college students was printed and launched within the curriculum for the primary time within the nation. Later, NCERT did the identical in its textbooks.
Additionally, the Odisha Catastrophe Response Drive (ODRAF), a specialised and devoted outfit for fast rescue and aid operations was arrange from the personnel within the armed police battalions. Initially, groups had been fashioned from three such battalions; the quantity has elevated to twenty. Every workforce consists of fifty skilled, members. “ODRAF was our concept,” remembers Behera. The Nationwide Catastrophe Response Drive (NDRF) got here later.
“We tried to be taught from the most effective practices of different international locations – Australia, Singapore and the US and many others. We additionally shared our experiences with neighbours together with Bangladesh, Nepal. They had been eager to be taught from us,” narrates Behera. In India, Gujarat replicated the Odisha mannequin within the aftermath the 2001 earthquake. Groups from Odisha have additionally rendered their companies throughout calamities in different states.
“Odisha and OSDMA have proactively leveraged their historic expertise and classes to the advantage of the state and its residents. Because of this Odisha stands right this moment as a beacon of hope and effectivity and a mannequin template for efficient catastrophe response,” says NDRF DG SN Pradhan.
Director Basic of India Meteorological Division (IMD) Dr Mrutyunjay Mohapatra seconds Pradhan. “Odisha has set an instance for others in cyclone administration based mostly on the early warning supplied by IMD,” he says.
Nonetheless, some are of the opinion that it’s time the OSDMA moved to the subsequent stage. “Frankly talking, we haven’t seen one other Tremendous Cyclone-like catastrophe, so the system hasn’t been examined as to how we are able to reply in such a scenario,” says one skilled.
Prusty although believes that OSDMA as an instrument has monumental potential and might emerge as an built-in unit to satisfy each side – preparedness, aid, restoration – in all disasters together with pandemics. He suggests, the company wants to deal with points on the entire lifecycle of catastrophe administration. It must also have extra high-calibre professionals to innovate and introduce trendy approaches.
“OSDMA ought to function because the nodal company to combine the hydrometeorological disasters, local weather change adaptation measures, bio range administration, industrial and mining disasters impacting group lives and livelihood. It ought to coordinate with ports, railways, transport system and likewise mass fast transport system as nicely,” opines Prusty.
Associated information: Revisiting Amphan’s predecessor: The Super Cyclone of 1999
He additionally advocates for the redesigning of the state aid code with introduction of minimal requirements for each preparedness and response in any catastrophe like scenario. “OSDMA ought to create management in utilizing expertise in catastrophe administration motion plans,” says Prusty.
Nonetheless, all are optimistic that the much-awaited catastrophe administration coaching institute ought to see the sunshine of the day within the close to future. “It’ll certainly be a centre of excellence,” hopes Prusty.