MUZAFFARABAD: Expressing displeasure at unchecked constructions along the watercourses, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas has directed the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) to prepare a comprehensive report in this regard.

At a briefing by the SDMA, he maintained that since the jurisdiction and scope of the work of SDMA had been expanded, action in any matter related to [the safety of] human lives was exactly under its mandate.

“Whether incidents of fire, floods, landsliding or any other natural or man-made calamity, it’s you who have to swing into action to save lives and properties,” he said, adding a report on encroachments and unchecked constructions along watercourses would help the government evolve a strategy to deal with this issue.

Referring to the frequency of cloudburst-induced flash floods in different areas of the state, particularly in Neelum valley, the prime minister stressed that all concerned government departments should do an advance planning to escape losses in such tragic incidents in future.

Says govt will enhance SDMA’s budget and meet its other requirements

He admitted that the Rs150 million annual budget of SDMA was scant as it went mostly to meet administrative expenditures, leaving little amount for service delivery in the calamity prone region.

“The government would not only enhance the budget, but also meet other requirements of this vital institution on a priority basis,” Mr Ilays said.

In this regard, he said the SDMA would not only be equipped with the latest machinery, including an air-ambulance, but also linked with the satellite.

In the same context, he said that the purpose-built office buildings of SDMA would be constructed as part of measures to let this institution perform its functions smoothly and swiftly to the satisfaction of masses.

The AJK premier also directed that an exemplary mutual coordination between government departments should be established and strengthened for a rapid response on their part to an emergency situation in the wake of any calamity.

The departments in general and SDMA in particular should hold mock exercises to test and improve their skills apart from running awareness campaigns with the help of the media, he said.

The SDMA personnel would also be imparted training in Punjab and elsewhere to augment their capacity, he said.

PM Ilyas was of the view that environment friendly measures and activities by public and private institutions and individuals were the best possible way to effectively tackle the ever-rising environmental problems.

The prime minister vowed that the government would establish the full-fledged setup of SDMA in all three divisions of state, to be headed by B-20 officers.

The overall incharge would be a B-21 officer at the state capital.

The briefing was attended among others by minister for disaster management and civil defence Chaudhry Akbar Ibrahim, secretary Shahid Ayub, SDMA directors Chaudhry Abdul Rehman, Saeed Qureshi and Nauman Shafiq, commissioner rehabilitation Chaudhry Fareed and deputy director civil defence Zaheer Abbas.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2022

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