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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: For the first time ever, the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) would take up drought management in the state from this year.

Talking to media persons after the governing body meeting of the OSDMA presided over by chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi at the State Secretariat here on Saturday, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradipta Kumar Mahapatra said that the state government has entrusted OSDMA to prepare a protocol on drought since Odisha is affected by drought every 3-4 years.

“Since the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) usually provides monsoon forecast during May and June, we will plan well in advance to make sure the situation does not aggravate in October and November. The protocol would be jointly prepared by the departments like the Panchayati Raj, Water Resources, Rural Development, Agriculture etc., who are associated with the OSDMA, during the monsoon months if there is a forecast of deficient rainfall,” he pointed out.

He said if there deficit rainfall is forecast for specific areas with no possibility of raising crops, the government need not wait for crop cutting to announce that there is crop loss.

“We should plan much in advance and start supplying seeds to the farmers without waiting till October and November. After observing the monsoon trend in the first three months, we would take action well in time. The protocol will fix the timing of our action plan,” Mohapatra said.

The SRC said the protocol would be of much help to the concerned departments who would take up labour-intensive programmes if there is deficit rainfall.

“As soon as the dry spell starts, the departments will start labour-intensive programmes and provide jobs to the labourers,” he added.

About the preparation of the protocol, Mahapatra said it would be done in the OSDMA office since he is in charge. “Any planning is done in the OSDMA. The duty of the SRC is to warn people before and after a natural disaster,” he pointed out.

He said among other things, it was decided that henceforth the cyclone shelter management committees will be headed by the sarpanches to look after its maintenance. Earlier, the Block Development Officers (BDOs) were the presidents of the committees.

There are a total of 850 cyclone shelters in the state at present.

Apart from this, the meeting also approved the decision taken at the state executive committee meeting of the OSDMA for formation of 10 additional Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) units in the state which will become operational from April 1 this year.

“Since the Home department has confirmed the selection of 500 personnel as the members of the new ODRAF units, we will provide all equipment and funds to the Additional DG, ODRAF as per the requirement,” Mahapatra said.

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