The Comptroller and Auditor General has criticised the functioning of disaster management system in Kerala, saying there are deficiencies in the functioning of ’emergency operating centres’ in the state. The CAG report for the year 2016 March, tabled in the recently concluded session of the Assembly, said the EOCs were not equipped to properly respond to a disaster in the state, which is vulnerable to various hazards due its geographical peculiarities and population density. It also pointed out that the state was continuing a “relief-centric approach” in disaster management activities rather than a “pro-active prevention, mitigation and preparedness drive approach” as envisaged in the Disaster Management Act (DMA). “As per the Kerala State Disaster Management Policy, EOCs should function round the clock. But, the State Emergency Operating Centre and the two District Emergency Operating Centres were not functioning round the clock,” it said.
Very High Frequency radio communication systems, to be used as Early Warning Systems at the time of disaster when normal communication fail, were not available, it said, citing the various deficiencies listed out in terms of the EOCs. Training on disaster management and VHF operation was not imparted to DEOCs staff and toll free number 1077 was not functioning or accessible to all consumers, it said. On the flaws of early warning systems, the report said failure of District Disaster Management (DM) Authorities in repairing essential communication system may make “dissemination of proper information impossible to lower levels such as taluks, villages and thereby to vulnerable communities during a disaster.”
Though the National Disaster Management guidelines warranted that all hospitals should have an ‘all hazard’ plan to tackle disasters, many government hospitals in the state were lacking various significant aspects of the preparedness. “In 8 government hospitals selected for audit in Alappuzha, Kottayam, Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram district, various significant aspects of preparedness were lacking,” it said.
Stating that DDMAs had failed in identifying locations other than educational institutions for relief camps as suggested in the national policy, the audit noticed that of eight schools selected in four districts, two schools were used as relief camps. Holiday was declared to the schools on the days when relief camps functioned. The report also found deficiencies in management of finance and inadmissible expenditure from the State Disaster Response Fund with expenditure impact of Rs 153.63 crore.
DM plan at the state/district levels and by Local Authority were not prepared even after 10 years of enactment of the DMA, 2005, it said. Provisions of National Disaster Management Authority guidelines were not included in the municipal and panchayat building rules dealing with the construction of buildings in the state, the CAG report added.