Nepal Today

Thursday, June 20, 2013

RESCUE OF 400 STRANDED NEPALI PILGRIMS BEGINS Kathmandu, 21 June: The Foreign Ministry on Thursday said that the Nepali pilgrims at Badri Kedar of India were being rescued by the Indian government. They have been reportedly left stranded due to landslides and floods that have hit the region following incessant rainfall, RSS reports.. Spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry, Arjun Bahadur Thapa, said the Nepali pilgrims stranded after the disaster at Badri Kedar of Uttarkhand in India were being rescued by the Indian government upon the request of Nepal government. Seventy out of some 400 Nepalis stranded have already been airlifted to safe camps at Dehradun and Rishikesh of India, he added. "Nepali Embassy in New Delhi is also constantly in contact with the Indian rescuers and doing the needful to rescue the affected Nepalis. And, there has been no reported Nepali casualty in the disaster," said Spokesperson Thapa. According to the Indian media, the landslides and floods lashed Uttarkhand of India, killing at least 70 persons, affecting 60,000 people and destroying massive physical infrastructures recently. Badri Kedar is one of the holy pilgrim sites that Hindus from Nepal visit frequently. Nnnn GOVT. NOT PREPARED FOR MONSOON Kathmandu, 21 June: Western parts of Nepal this week witnessed heavy floods and landslides triggered by the ongoing monsoon, with the death toll at 39 and property loss worth billions. Dozens who were swept away by the flood are still missing and several hundred others have been displaced and rendered homeless, Kamal Pariyar writes in Republica.. The government has mobilized the police and army for rescue efforts round the clock and announced several relief packages for the victims. “We were able to minimize further loss as we could promptly deploy all government bodies in full,” said Joint Secretary Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, who heads the Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee (CNDRC). “No one can fight nature; we can just try to minimize the loss,” he added. While 39 people have lost their lives, 18 others are missing, according to data at the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC). Likewise, 7 people were injured, 187 houses were completely damaged and 7 partially damaged due to flood and landslide as of Thursday. But as the government struggles with rescue and rehabilitation, disaster management experts have criticized it for lacking proper pre-disaster management. They argue that since landslides and floods are yearly occurrences the government could have greatly reduce the losses if it had adopted pre-disaster management measures. . Be it Terai, Hills or Mountains, disasters can take place in the monsoon season. “But neither do we have proper coordination among government stakeholders nor are the tools or techniques adopted by the government implemented effectively,” said Man Bahadur Thapa, an expert on disaster management. “If we analyze previous data on disasters, we can easily get a proper idea about the management needed,” he further said. “Government bodies seem to be waiting for disaster to strike and then react accordingly. National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC), established in 2010 by the Ministry of Home Affairs and operated under the Planning and Special Services Division, acts as a coordination and communications point for disaster information across Nepal. It also coordinates among government agencies and other response and recovery stakeholders such as Nepal Red Cross Society, UN agencies, NGOs and INGOS. Though they are monitoring areas at flood risk with the help of real-time river monitoring systems, the government delayed safety measure. The government has been planning to establish district emergency operation centers (DEOCs) in all 75 districts, but it has not taken any serious initiatives to that end. If we just identify the high-risk locations and transfer the people at risk to safer places and inform local stakeholders in time, we can halve the disaster losses, he said. However, government stakeholders claim that they have done everything by of quick response to disaster. But when asked about the preparedness measures, they have no ready answers. They do accept that they need proper connectivity and resolution to face off disaster. Experts suggest that the government should formulate development plans in tandem with climate risk management. Most importantly, they should be properly equipped with the latest technological innovations and effective communication systems. As the monsoon has just started and is moving eastward, the government needs to identify potential threats of flood and landslide and take appropriate preventive measures to save life and property. Vulnerable pocket areas need to be identified in time and effective mitigating measures put in place. Since it is not possible for separate individuals or agencies to tackle the fury of nature, it is high time the government also ensured the participation of other stakeholders as well as the public and private sectors. Nnnn


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