ITANAGAR Feb 12 : A seven-member inter-ministerial team of the central government on disaster management, headed by Prakash, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, this morning called on Chief Minister Pema Khandu at his offices. The team is on a two-day visit to the state to assess the losses caused by natural disasters in the state and submit a report along with recommendations to the Central Government.
Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Management Kaling Moyong, Chief Secretary Satya Gopal and Secretary Disaster Management Bidol Tayeng were also present during the call on.
The Chief Minister while welcoming the team to Arunachal Pradesh iterated that natural calamities and the heavy losses caused by it is a perennial problem being faced by the state due to its unique geographical and topographical features. With limited resources of its own, the state, he said, has to depend mostly on central government aids to repair and restore the damages and losses.
“Besides heavy damages to our infrastructure, last year we lost more than 40 precious human lives due to natural calamities that cannot be accounted in terms of monitorial aids,” he observed.
While requesting members of the inter-ministerial team to assess the damages and its corresponding losses in the right perspective, Khandu suggested that the team visit the state immediately after the monsoons to witness the havoc created by natural calamities like landslides and floods in reality.
“Our monsoons are long and heavy– from April till September – and causes undue sufferings to the people by washing away important infrastructure like buildings, roads and bridges. With more than half of the population living in interior and mountainous landscapes, relief and rehabilitation process are slow and tedious,” he informed and expressed optimism that the team would highlight the problems and issues specific to Arunachal Pradesh in their report.
Team leader, MHA Joint Secretary, Prakash admitted to the unique position of Arunachal Pradesh in terms of recuperating from the losses. He cited recreating damaged infrastructure as one of the biggest challenges for the state in disaster management.
“We understand that costs of construction materials get doubled or even more by the time these reach the site. We will keep this in mind in our recommendations to the Central Government,” Prakash assured.
He also seconded the Chief Minister’s suggestion and said the state government may submit its report by September – end of monsoon season – so that the Inter-Ministerial team could visit the state to assess the losses by October when the damages are still fresh.
Chief Secretary Satya Gopal informed that this year the damages due to natural calamities have been assessed at Rs. 1037.61 crores as on 31.12.2017. In the last seven years the damages had amounted to more than Rs.11 thousand crores against which the state received only about Rs.700 crores as central assistance in the form of SDRF and NDRF and this has resulted in accumulation of about Rs 10 thousand crores over the years, he added.
The Chief Secretary requested the central government to consider a comprehensive package for restoration as well as mitigation fund to the state government to meet up the huge gap that has been accumulated over the years.
The Inter-Ministerial Team later had a detailed meeting with all concerned departments of the state government, wherein each of the line departments explained in detail about damages and losses caused to their respective departments during last year by natural calamities.
The central team is scheduled to visit flood-ravaged districts of Lower Siang, East Siang, Lower Dibang Valley, Lohit and Namsai tomorrow. The team today surveyed the damages caused in and around the twin capital cities of Itanagar and Naharlagun.
Members of the Inter-Ministerial Team include Dr K Manoharan, Director, Department of Agriculture, R B Kaul, Asst Director, Ministry of Finance, Vishal Pandey, Asst Executive Engineer, MoRTH, Pawan Kumar Gupta, Asst Director, Ministry of Power, Suresh Chandra Sharma, Senior Consultant, Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation and B B Saikia from Ministry of Water Resources.