Nitesh R Pradhan
Sikkim is prone to natural disasters and manmade calamities, the need for disaster relief and its reduction in the State with students being considered as volunteers for such calamities was stressed upon by Land Revenue and Education Minister Kunga Nima Lepcha at a conference on Industrial Safety and Emergency Preparedness at Chintan Bhawan from December 4 to 6. The Minister asserted on the proposal for consideration of disaster management education in the upcoming curriculum in schools across the State.
Minister Lepcha went back to his own experience as a student volunteer during the infamous 1968 flash floods in the State, stressing on students being as the ambassador for awareness on disaster management. “The students can take this message back home and share with their parents, as parents are the first persons needed to make conscious about disasters. We have devised a plan that enables student from classes 1-3 with inclusion of sustainable developmental goals of the United Nation. Sikkim is a small State, and there is no room for us to become history and focus on preservation. In 1997, I myself had intervened as a bureaucrat over a landslide and started a relief camp there. These attempts help in mobilizing the youth for the greater good”.
With the conference and the confluence of experts on natural disasters and industrial calamities, the Minister divulged on knowledge and partnership in relief works as the biggest take away from the 3-day conference. “Focus should be not merely on what we take back but also on the implementation to disaster risk reduction. With regards to various lakes in the State being disaster prone, we must take preventive actions and spread awareness these lakes can prove to be disastrous for us. We are also in discussion for certain legislation to be adopted with regards to reduction of disasters with focus also on industrial disasters with an attempt at avoiding them”.
With the winters fast approaching the Minister also stressed on the unprecedented snowfall of last winter being a lesson on State’s preparedness on such disasters which resulted in large scale loss of habitat specially the yaks. He also laid special focus on the 18 September 2011 earthquake which resulted in loss of lives and properties. “There is a need for mapping of disasters and also possible locations for such occurrence. Workers working in various industries must also be equally aware of the various disasters the industries and the machinery are prone to. We are so far free from such industrial disasters but preparedness on such accounts must be considered”. The Minister also highlighted how the State has been chosen as a pilot State to mitigate disasters.
The 3-day workshop organized on the lines of Chemical and Industrial Disaster Management (CIDM) 2019 in tandem with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Sikkim State Disasters Management Authority featured addresses from Rubaad Sood, Additional Director and Head Disaster Management (FICCI), along with Retired IAS L. Mansing who served as former secretary in the Union Government, Relief Commissioner cum Secretary Land Revenue Department Ambika Pradhan and Additional Director GC Khanal among others.