In a significant development, the Chief Secretary of Odisha, Pradeep Kumar Jena, chaired the third meeting of the State Executive Committee (SEC) of Disaster Management on October 11. The meeting delved into the crucial role of natural safeguards in mitigating the impact of cyclones and lightning-related fatalities.
One of the key focal points of the discussion was the reinforcement of mangrove forests as effective barriers against cyclones. Chief Secretary Jena emphasized the importance of densifying these mangrove areas to provide enhanced protection.
Furthermore, the meeting highlighted the need for an extensive palm tree plantation drive to prevent deaths caused by lightning strikes. The Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment Department, along with the Forest, Environment, and Climate Change Department, was advised to spearhead these efforts, with a particular focus on lightning-prone districts.
Another significant aspect of the meeting was the approval for the procurement of Search & Rescue Equipment, accessories, and vehicles for Odisha Fire & Emergency Services. An amount of Rs. 159,02,19,356 has already been released for this purpose, out of the proposed Rs. 240,33,51,108.
In addition to these measures, the meeting discussed mitigation proposals that have been submitted for funding from the State Disaster Mitigation Fund (SDMF) and National Disaster Mitigation Fund (NDMF). Notable proposals included the construction of flood-resilient roads in various districts and an ambitious lightning alert/forecast system in collaboration with Earth Network and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.
The Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) also put forth a proposal to implement the Indian Ocean Tsunami Ready (IOTR) Programmes in 24 tsunami-prone villages across coastal districts, aiming to obtain the Tsunami Ready Certification from IOC-UNESCO. This initiative also includes orientation programs on tsunami awareness for key stakeholders in urban local bodies.
These proactive measures and initiatives demonstrate Odisha’s commitment to strengthening its disaster preparedness and protecting its citizens from the threats of cyclones and lightning.