Breakfast Meeting on ‘How Chennai is Gearing up to Meet the Challenges of Monsoon Season’

 

On October 10th, 2018 AMCHAM’s Tamil Nadu Chapter held a breakfast meeting on how Chennai is gearing up to meet the challenges of monsoon season. The meeting was chaired by Mr. R. Ramkumar, Chairman – Tamil Nadu Chapter, AMCHAM and Executive Director – India, Cognizant Technology Solutions. The guest speaker was Dr. K. Satyagopal IAS, Additional Chief Secretary & Commissioner, Revenue Administration, Government of Tamil Nadu.

 

The tone for the meeting was set by Mr. Ramkumar who welcomed the participants and the guest speaker. Mr. Ramkumar said that the Executive Committee had decided on this topic as the monsoon season predicted by the Indian Meteorological Departments was set to bring heavy rains in Tamil Nadu.

 

Dr. Satyagopal started off his presentation by saying that preparedness leads to safety and that the Tamil Nadu government and the State Disaster Management Authority follow a culture of safety. He quoted Benjamin Franklin who said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

 

Dr. Satyagopal’s presentation focussed on the impact of disasters, estimation of losses in various types of disasters, preventive measures without disturbing the environment, administrative infrastructure, readiness to handle disasters, compensation to be awarded, rebuilding post-disaster, how to plan developmental activities by taking into account of the disaster management plans and funds required for handling such catastrophes. He added that his office has prepared ‘The Tamil Nadu Disaster Management Perspective Plan 2018 – 2030,’ which conforms to the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction, United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals of 2030, Paris Agreement on Climate Change and its goals, National Disaster Management Plan of 2016 and Prime Minister’s 10-point agenda on disaster risk reduction, which formed the basis for preparing the futuristic plan.

 

Dr. Satyagopal said that there has been a paradigm shift in the focus of disaster management, from response-centric covering rescue, relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction to laying greater emphasis on the other elements of disaster management cycle – prevention, mitigation, and preparedness – as a means to avert or soften the impact of future emergencies. The Revenue Administration, Disaster Management and Mitigation Department (RADMMD), is in the process of strengthening disaster management capacity in the state by providing access to essential facilities, creating support systems and building human capacities. To cope effectively with crisis and emergency situations, the department coordinates with the other state departments, policy makers and technical institutions to develop well-defined strategies to manage crises and also to mitigate the risks caused by the same. The Commissioner of Revenue Administration undertakes all activities relating to disaster management and mitigation besides managing relief and rehabilitation activities of any disaster in the state. He added that the Principal Secretary/Commissioner of Revenue Administration is also the Relief Commissioner.

 

Explaining the working of the Tamil Nadu Disaster Management Authority, Dr. Satyagopal said that the Revenue Administration Department places equal importance on preparedness, response and mitigation to develop a robust disaster management unit in the state. Information on state-of-the-art technology and equipment to be used during emergencies were collated and necessary actions were being taken to strengthen the control rooms in the state and districts. Efforts are also on to strengthen emergency management systems at the taluk and sub-divisional levels.

 

Dr. Satyagopal stressed on the fact that procedures and systems pertaining to preparedness and relief were periodically reviewed and necessary improvements made. Efforts were also being taken to train the personnel in revenue administration to handle complex disaster situations to bring down its impact on human life or property. Further the department also reiterates the necessity to continuously undertake measures to build capacity among all the disaster management stakeholders and to create awareness among the community members. To give high importance to this task, the State Relief Commissioner is a member of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), with the Chief Minister as its Chairperson.

At the district level, the District Collector has the responsibility for the overall management of disasters. He has the authority to mobilize the response machinery and has been given financial powers to draw money under the provisions of the General Financial Rules/Treasury Codes. All departments of the state government including the Police, Fire Services, Public Works, Irrigation etc., work in a coordinated manner under the leadership of the District Collector during disasters, except in metropolitan areas where the municipal body plays a major role. NGOs have also participated in providing relief, rescue and rehabilitation in recent times. Dr. Satyagopal added that ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ have been prepared for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear disasters.

 

In conclusion Dr. Satyagopal said that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction has 4 priority areas, which are: understanding disaster risks; strengthening disaster risk governance; investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience and enhancing disaster preparedness through effective response, building better in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Dr. Satyagopal invited all corporate businesses in the state to partner with the government in this task by investing some of their CSR funds in projects identified by the state administration. He said that there was no need to transfer funds to the government. The corporate businesses could undertake work identified by the government and the district administration and government departments would support any such initiative undertaken as a CSR project.

 

An interesting interactive session followed and the meeting concluded by Mr. Ramkumar thanking Dr. Satyagopal for making a very detailed presentation on the state government’s preparedness to manage the monsoon and other natural calamities in Tamil Nadu.