With the Northeast monsoon set to commence in a few months, the Tamil Nadu government is taking precautions and putting all necessary measures in place to face any eventuality. On Saturday, Tamil Nadu State Revenue and Disaster Management Minister RB Udayakumar said that disaster management training will be given to people and first responders in the state to tide over calamities.
The minister was speaking at a press briefing that was held as part of the annual three-day joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise by Revenue and Disaster Management Department, along with the Indian Navy and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The programme began on Friday.
Although the specifics of the training were not stated, the Minister said it will examine the preparedness of the state, best methods in disaster management and rectify shortcomings of communication methods, among other aspects.
According to reports, as part of this training, mock exercises will be held in select places in 12 coastal districts, except Kancheepuram. Srinivasapuram in Chennai, Pulicat in Tiruvallur, and Chinnavillai in Kanyakumari are among the places selected. The mock exercise will help to sharpen the skills of the state officials and other stakeholders while dealing with disasters.
The three-day joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise on Friday began with a seminar on â€śCyclone and Urban Floodingâ€ť. With participation from foreign countries, it also has a two-day exhibition that was inaugurated in Island Grounds on Saturday.
Is the state really prepared for calamities?
The announcement comes in the wake of Chief Secretary K Shanmugam's remarks that financial support from the Centre in times of disaster was not adequate. Speaking at the inaugural day of the programme on Friday, Shanmugam said that the State government was managing with its own pool of resources.
On Saturday, Minister RB Udayakumar said, â€śWe have already conducted a drill for a tsunami. This creates awareness among people, on the measures and precautions to take during such disasters. This will help us avoid human loss while facing disasters due to rain, flood, wind, landslides.â€ť
Although the state government received flak from people for its poor disaster management, especially after cyclone Ockhi and Gaja, the minister claimed that lives of fishermen were avoided. â€śWe have faced a number of disasters recently. Quite recently, during Ockhi and Gaja cyclones, the media helped in conveying the information immediately to people. Based on our preparedness, we were able to avoid loss of lives. We have not lost even one fisherman and we are proud of this fact. It shows our development over the years. We will also be able to improve our information communication techniques in the future,â€ť he claimed.
However, his statement contradicts the reality so far.
Over the last four years, Tamil Nadu has had to deal with at least one disaster every year. While the floods in 2015 threw normal life off balance for over a month, cyclone Vardha, which hit the state in 2016, uprooted about 1 lakh trees in Chennai alone.
Cyclone Ockhi in 2017 took the lives of close to 200 fishermen who had gone to sea without having received a proper warning. The state government received was criticised by people and activists for its poor cyclone warning system.
Cyclone Gaja, which ravaged through the stateâ€™s coastal districts in 2018, is still fresh in peopleâ€™s memories. The cyclone wreaked havoc in Nagapattinam and Thiruvarur districts in the state and destroyed the livelihoods of several farmers. After Cyclone Gaja, Tamil Nadu sought Rs 15,000 crore from the Centre towards relief and rehabilitation.