I will reiterate several ideas which I have already shared before as we have not paid enough attention to them. We should think of new initiatives as well. We live in a high-risk zone, where forewarned is forearmed.
Several institutions and communities haven't carried out a drill for quick evacuation in the face of a calamity.
Should we not insist on making it obligatory for every public and private organisations, housing societies and village communities to do such mock drills once every three or six months? One of the lessons we learnt in 2001 was that local communities have the most important role to play in an emergency followed by volunteers from nearby places. GSDMA site has resources which municipalities or other public bodies have.
What we however need is a distributed list of such resources (material or human) with contact information and earmarked people willing to be contacted in an emergency. With this, volunteers can mention the areas where they can provide relief. Suppliers of medical items including x-ray plates, mobile x-ray machines and private ambulances (with smart 108 services, this maybe less of a problem now) should also be listed. Self-help training is a must in schools and colleges. In an international conference on school safety held at Ahmedabad in 2006, several useful recommendations were made about incorporating lessons in disaster management into the curriculum, making children and communities aware of what they can do in the event of a disaster.
We, however, should ask ourselves, how much have we done and are we satisfied with it. A very useful document is up on the GSDMA website but then we should ask ourselves - do we know the contact information of the nodal person for any specific help in our institution or housing society? Recent damages in Junagadh, warning signals from animal behaviours and quick help from state are lessons that need to be learnt.
It may seem improbable to reinforce every house with earthquake-proof amendments but if that's the need, then at least posters of such corrections should be pasted in ever single village.
Even the Panchayat can be trained using video and teleconferencing in dos and don'ts. Every life matters. Countries like Japan have higher frequency of earthquakes but far less damage to human life and resources.
Gujarat must aim for a similar efficiency in this regard.
This is possible and can be done with wider participation. Jumping from high roofs and getting hurt is an accident, which can be avoided if children were educated about steps that can be taken in such matters. Let us try to achieve much higher standards of safety than we currently have.
It is not only government's responsibility to do so, but civil society should also join hands for this initiative. Collaborative platforms are needed for better preparation and readiness. We have no time to lose.