The State of Himachal Pradesh is prone to various types of disasters. Out of the total 33 hazards identified by High Powered Committee (HPC), the State is vulnerable to 25 hazards. Most of these are earthquake, landslides, avalances and floods. Keeping in view, the vulnerability of the State to these hazards, the State Government has taken up various steps to strengthen and facilitate proactive action on all phases of disaster management.

The State Government has constituted the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) with Chief Minister as Chairman, Revenue Minister as Member and Chief Secretary as Chief Executive Officer and also the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) in all 12 district of the State.

There has been a paradigm shift in Disaster Management in the country, keeping that in view a distinct move from the earlier approach of post disaster relief, the State Government has adopted a pre-disaster preparedness, mitigation and risk reduction approach. Efforts are being made for sustainable development, comprising of disaster preparedness, response, recovery and reconstruction.

The State Government has prepared comprehensive Hazard, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (HVRA) atlas which make Himachal the only Himalayan State to have prepared HVRA Atlas in the Country. The HRVA Atlas covers 12 districts and 78 blocks of the State and has been prepared with an objective to assess and to quantify disaster risk levels, their distribution within the State and associated causal factors to guide in disaster risk reduction and mitigation efforts.

With a view to strengthen assistance services at the time of disaster the State Government has established one battalion of National Disaster Response Force( SDRF) at Nurpur in district Kangra for mitigation of disasters for which the land has been purchased from HP Agro Industries Corporation and accommodation has also been built up.

The State Government has also decided to establish a State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) in the State for which adequate funds have been released to the Police Department for imparting training and equipments to SDRF coys at 3rd IRBn Pandoh and PTC Daroh. The matter is under active consideration of Home Department.

Training to the State functionaries, community in general and youths in particular on disaster management is also imparted at State and District level besides at HIPA, RTI Joginder, Atal Bihari Vajpee Mountaineering Allied Sports, Manali and National Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi.

Himachal Pradesh has re-constituted the State Executive Committee to assist the State Authority in the performance of its functions and to coordinate action in accordance with the guidelines laid down by State Authority and ensure the compliance of the directions issued by the State Government.

The Government of India has sanctioned Rs. 1304 crore under the 14th Finance Commission grants for five years i.e. 2015-2016 to 2019-20 under the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) which also include five percent allocation for capacity building. A pilot project on National School Safety Programme has been implemented in district Kangra and Kullu of the State to develop culture of disaster awareness amongst the teachers and students with the financial assistance of 1.68 crore. Another project at State level is being implemented through SCERT Solan and GCTE Dharamshala for all districts under National School Safety Programme.

The first session of State Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction was organized on 22nd September, 2016 in collaboration with the United National Development Program (UNDP) to focus on implementation of the Sendai Framework.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.