CM convenes meeting on monsoon preparedness, advocates advance warning system

ITANAGAR, 19 May: Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Thursday convened a meeting on monsoon preparedness with all the departments concerned, along with the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), at the civil secretariat here.

After perusing the status reports of preparedness submitted by all concerned, the CM said: “Though we do not want any disaster to fall upon us, we cannot deny the fact that nature is unpredictable and we need to be prepared. Arunachal Pradesh, owing to its strategic geographical location, has to face the situation every monsoon,” he said.

Khandu stressed on having a robust advance warning system, so that people can be warned in advance and loss of lives avoided.

“Human life is precious. We must go to the extreme to prevent loss of lives,” he said, and asked the officers of the disaster management department to “not depend only on telephonic or WhatsApp messages but personally contact their officials in the districts in case any warning has to be conveyed.”

Commending the department for keeping track of all weather forecasts issued by the Indian Meteorological Department and sending warning messages to vulnerable districts, Khandu observed that bad weather often disrupts data services.

“Therefore,” he said, “officials at the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) should personally call the district administrations or the district disaster management officer concerned to ensure that the warning is conveyed in advance.”

He stressed that the state emergency operation centre should be active round the clock for the entire duration of the monsoon, while the SDRF and the NDRF should avoid granting leave to their personnel “and remain alert with full strength.”

Lauding the Itanagar Capital Region (ICR) administration “for evacuating 17 households from vulnerable areas within the state capital,” Khandu directed all deputy commissioners to follow suit, in order to avoid loss of human lives.

To the concerns raised by the SDMA and the deputy commissioners regarding provision of immediate relief to disaster victims, the chief minister advised the finance department to “coordinate with the SDMA and ease release of funds for the purpose.”

He endorsed the suggestion to equip police stations with basic equipment and first aid kits, and requested the SDMA to “work on it and do the necessary immediately,” adding that the SDMA has sufficient funds.

“At least four months of monsoon lies ahead. Let’s be fully prepared,” Khandu said.

Disaster management adviser Tanpho Wangnaw, who has been visiting all vulnerable places and recent landslide-hit areas in the capital, blamed “rampant and illegal earth-cutting by citizens” as the major cause of landslides.

Advocating strict action as per the law against persons indulging in illegal earth-cutting, Wangnaw also raised concern over the failure of officials, especially in the districts, to submit reports on disasters and the losses incurred.

“For want of reports, the SDMA is unable to process immediate relief for the victims, which amounts to injustice,” he said.

As per details provided by the SDMA, till Wednesday, 14 districts, 33 villages and about 3,000 people have been affected, while seven persons – four in the ICR and three in Kurung Kumey district – have died. Two persons – one each in Itanagar and Anjaw – are reported missing.

At least 7.6 hectares of cultivated fields have been destroyed, while 392 houses have been damaged across the state.

In the state capital, three temporary shelters (one each in Banderdewa, Naharlagun and Itanagar) have been designated. However, these shelters are lying vacant as all the evacuees (17 households) have preferred to shift to their relatives’ places. The lone relief camp established in Lohit HQ Tezu presently has 92 inmates.

According to the officers of other departments, no major damage to highways has been reported, sufficient food grains are in stock, water supply to the state capital has been restored, and the medical department is ready with teams for any emergency.

The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary (in-charge) Kaling Tayeng, Planning Commissioner Prashant Lokhande, and officers of the finance, health, food & civil supplies, PW (highway), PHE and disaster management departments of Papum Pare and the ICR, besides police officers and officers of the NDRF and the SDRF. (CM’s PR Cell)