Odisha yet to formulate Disaster Management Plan, says CAG

Bhubaneswar: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has rapped the Odisha government and state disaster management agencies for failing to formulate the State Disaster Management Plan (SDMP) and not submitting utilization certificates to the tune of Rs 527 crores from 2008-09 to 2011-12. In its report on “Performance Audit of Disaster Preparedness in India,” the country’s government auditor has mentioned about irregularities which include inadmissible expenditure of Rs 53.83 crore, non-investment of the unspent funds resulting in loss of interest amounting to Rs 25.16 crore during the year 2008-09 to 2011-12 and non-submission of utilization certificates (UC) for Rs 526.42 crore by the agencies, departments, Odisha State Disaster Mitigation Authority (OSDMA) etc for the above mentioned period.
 
On the state’s lack of sincerity to have a State Disaster Management Plan (SDMP), the CAG report says, “SDMP was not prepared even after lapse of more than six years of the Disaster Management Act. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has also released Rs 10.63 lakh to the State in January 2010 for this purpose. Despite the availability of sufficient funds, the State could not formulate its DMP as yet”. The CAG report has stated that the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) which was constituted in 2010, had not met since its inception and the Special Relief Commissioner also did not take any initiative to convene the SDMA meeting.
 
Bringing to fore the loopholes in State Disaster Management Policy formulated in 2005, the report stated that it did not include manmade disasters.  The policy too lacked in adoption of safe construction practices, retrofitting of life line buildings, owner driven reconstruction practices and provision to generate temporary livelihood option for the affected community.
 
Observing that 15 Vey High Frequency (VHF) sets placed at the District Emergency Operations Centre and blocks are lying defunct, the CAG’s performance report criticized the State Government for its ill-preparedness to handle a potential natural or manmade disaster.
 
The State which was struck by a devastating super cyclone in 1999 also drew flak on the slow progress in installation of Automated Weather Communication Systems (AWCS) in the natural disaster-prone areas. “Out of 220 AWCS planned, only 37 were set up while seven are not functioning properly.”
 
The CAG however lauded the State for its own Disaster Management Information System for analyzing intensity of rainfall and areas of risk from the information received through the districts from 177 rain gauges. As many as 35 cyclone warning dissemination systems have been installed in the coastal districts, the report found. 
 
The CAG also took on states for poor preparedness for handling disaster situations. It said the Andhra Pradesh disaster management authority had met only thrice since 2007, Gujarat only twice and West Bengal only once in the last five years while these authorities never met in Odisha Tamil Nadu since inception.