Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired meeting of NCMC to review preparedness to deal with heat wave and forest fires

Union Cabinet Secretary Shri Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting of National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) to review preparedness to deal with heat wave and forest fires.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) made detailed presentations on current situation of heat wave and forest fires respectively including steps being taken to deal with them, across the country.

Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) informed that 10-22 above normal heat wave days were observed in different parts of the country between April to June 2024. It was also informed that as per forecast for the month of June, above-normal heatwave days are likely over most areas of Northwest India and neighboring areas from north Central India. This year, the monsoon is likely to be normal and above normal in most parts of the country. Regular alerts on heat waves are being sent by IMD.

NDMA also informed that a series of preparatory meetings have been conducted, starting from October 2023, by Central Ministries / Departments and State Governments. Advisories have been issued to states to activate Control Rooms, enforce SoPs for heat wave, ensure drinking water availability, preparedness of health facilities including availability of essential medicines and ORS and uninterrupted power supply. States have also been advised to conduct fire safety audits of schools, hospitals and other institutions regularly and reduce response time in incidents of fire. State governments informed that the situation is being reviewed and monitored closely with relevant departments and District Collectors.

Cabinet Secretary requested the Chief Secretaries to regularly review and monitor the short term, medium term and long-term measures to ramp up preparedness to deal with heat waves. He emphasized that efforts to maintain and augment sources of water supply should be stepped up and fire safety audit of all institutions be ensured regularly.

On forest fire management, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change made a presentation, outlining the action plan and preparedness to deal with the forest fires in various parts of the country. It was informed that regular forest fire alerts are being disseminated through mobile SMS and emails. A Forest Fire Alert System portal named VAN AGNI, which provides pre-fire and near real time forest fire alerts, has also been developed by Forest Survey of India (FSI) to assist the states and other agencies.

Cabinet Secretary reiterated that during the review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 02nd June, 2024, it was emphasized that the issue of forest fires should be given greater attention. A regular system of preparatory measures and annual drills to deal with forest fires, as done in case of floods etc. may be put in place. A comprehensive approach with a focus on prevention and quick and effective response should be adopted.

Cabinet Secretary observed that States & UTs need to be better prepared to meet the associated challenges related to heat wave and forest fires to ensure no loss of life and to minimize damage. He stressed the importance of preparatory measures as outlined by NDMA and MoEFCC.

Cabinet Secretary assured the States that Central Ministries/ Departments are closely engaging with them to ensure optimum preparedness and for implementing timely mitigation and response measures.

Union Home Secretary, Secretaries of Ministry of EF&CC, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Member & HoD, NDMA, CISC HQ (IDS), DG, NDRF, DG, IMD, DG, FSI, DG, Forest, Additional Secretaries of  Ministry of Labour & Employment and MHA, Advisor NDMA, Director, NRSC attended the meeting. Chief Secretaries of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, NCT of Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, and senior officials from Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, also attended the meeting through video conferencing.

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