India – Disaster Authority Exercise Tests Flood and Tsunami Response in Puducherry

The Indian National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in Puducherry recently carried out an exercise to assess the preparedness and response mechanism of the Union Territory administration in the event of a flood or a tsunami.

With a coastline of about 45 kilometres, stretching mostly along the Bay of Bengal, Puducherry is susceptible to both floods and tsunamis. The region was one of the worst affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.

The exercise, whcih took place on 09 March 2017, was conducted on the principle of Incident Response System (IRS), which identifies stakeholders and clearly attributes roles and responsibilities to each one of them. It helps in systematically responding to an incident by reducing confusion and chaos. NDMA expert Major General V.K. Datta (Retd.), who led the exercise, said, “Integrating IRS with mock exercises helps in achieving multi-agency coordination under a unified command. It strengthens the capacity and response mechanisms of the local administrations.”

Once the scenarios were sounded, Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs) were activated. Incident Commanders were identified and rescue teams were formed under them. The teams were then dispatched to their respective locations to carry out the search and rescue operations.

In the debriefing exercise carried out after the drill, participants discussed the shortcomings and ways to address them.

The mock exercise was part of a three-day event which began with a Co-ordination Conference on Tuesday followed by a Table-top Exercise on Wednesday. Senior officials from all the important departments such as the Army, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), health, police, education, firefighting, Civil Defense, transport, electricity, public relations, etc. participated in these preparatory meetings as well as in the exercise. A week prior to the exercise, an orientation conference was also held with concerned officials to ensure the smooth facilitation of the exercise.

The National Disaster Guidelines significantly focuses on Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness for a disaster situation. In its efforts towards improving the management of a disaster situation, NDMA regularly conducts such mock exercises across the country. So far, NDMA has conducted 550 mock exercises in different States and Union Territories, which is an ongoing process.