Biggest Exercise in any State on flood preparedness
In its efforts towards improving flood preparedness during the monsoon season amidst rising water level in the rivers of Uttar Pradesh,National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) conducted the largest Mock Exercise on floods in conjunction with the Uttar Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (UPSDMA) and the Government of Uttar Pradesh on July 18, 2019.
The simulation of the exercise was based on Early Warning provided by the India Meteorological Department, the Central Water Commission and the National Remote Sensing Centre. It was simultaneously conducted in 39 flood-prone districts of the State. The exercise helped improve the administration’s capacity in mobilising resources and reaching out to the affected communities swiftly in case of an actual flood situation.
The mock exercise was conducted on the principle of Incident Response System (IRS), which clearly identifies and attributes roles and responsibilities to all stakeholders. NDMA’s Major General V.K. Datta (Retd.), who led the exercise, said, “Incorporating principles of IRS in mock exercises helps in achieving multiagency coordination under a unified command. It strengthens the capacity and response mechanisms of the local administrations.”
Once the trigger of the imminent flood was given by the State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC), all the District EOCs were activated. Depending on the situation report, rescue teams under Incident Commanders were formed and dispatched to the respective locations. Boats and helicopters were used to simulate the evacuation of the affected areas and bring the residents to relief camps. Preliminary first aid, food packets, drinking water and other necessities were made available at these camps for the evacuated people. The exercise also saw the restoration of essential services, viz. water, electricity, sanitation, schools, etc., after the simulated floods situation.
During this exercise, the landlines and mobile phones were depicted as inoperative and the entire exercise was controlled by wireless and satellite phones.
Afterwards, a debriefing session was carried out by NDMA in which all the participating officials highlighted the challenges faced by them. Independent observers also shared their feedback and suggested ways to further streamline response mechanisms.
This exercise was preceded by an orientation-cum-coordination conference on July 10, followed by a tabletop exercise on July 17 through videoconferencing with all participating districts from the State Capital. These preparatory meetings were conducted to ensure the smooth facilitation of the exercise.
Various stakeholder agencies such as the Army, the Air Force, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force, district administration, Fire Fighting department, and Civil Defence and Home Guards participated in the exercise.
” Step-by-step analysis of the entire exercise is essential to identify the gaps and figuring out ways to improve our response,” said Lt. Gen. N. C. Marwah (Retd.), Member, NDMA. He added that such exercises also help to improve awareness among the local communities.
This Exercise is a part of a series of mock exercises that are being conducted under the Centre’s 100-day Action Plan on disaster preparedness. Prior to this, an exercise for Amarnath Yatra and earthquake preparedness exercises in Delhi-NCR and Himachal Pradesh were conducted. These exercises culminate into a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise in Tamil Nadu in August.