The critical situation that has tragically arisen in the state of Gujarat India, due to the major earthquake, 7.9 on the Richter scale, centered near the city of Bhuj, on the morning of 26 January 2001.
most severely affected districts in Gujarat are:
, of course, has sustained heavier losses of people and property with the
epicenter 20 km from city which is the main population center in the district.
intensity of the earthquake in Ahmedabad city was 6.9 on the Richter scale, with
a duration of 1.5 minutes.
the means of communication telephones, T.V. were non-functional immediately
after the earthquake, atleast for half a day. The telephones were not working
for almost 10 days.
it was very important to get the latest information on the extent of damage, the
casualties, the injuries to the affected. The emergency requirements in terms of
Medical aid, food, shelter and water.
and until, the relief and rescue teams physically went in the field, on site, it
was impossible to get the latest information. Therefore mobilising relief became
mobile phones started working only from the fifth day. However, having access to
mobile phones is not common in towns and villages.
realised the need for speedy communication to mobilise need based, adequate
relief measures, what was needed was access to information technology tools.
As a result of this DMI Communication Centre, it was possible to establish regular communication from Bhuj to the affected villages and vice a versa. Forward, informations onward to Ahmedabad SEWAs headquarters, contact the state authorities, the district authorities.
Access to information, two-way flow of relief and
damage information made a lot of work effective.
timely access to and proper use of Information Technology, enabled SEWA to
mobilise the needed relief material and make relief effective. Data from the
affected interior villages was collected by the field teams on daily basis.
data every evening was forwarded to SEWA Headquarters through internet. The data
available at the headquarters, then was analysed and forwarded to the
Government. This was a two way flow.
through the Communication Centre the distribution of material to the affected
villages was monitored and supplies maintained accordingly at the block level.
the data and information related to the assessment being done by the Government
on the damage in the villages was maintained, updated and accordingly,
coordination with the district and state administration was maintained.
Thus the Communication Centre proved extremely useful. It is proposed to document this experience.
The next stage was of mid term relief and planning for rehabilitation.
Here it was extremely important to have direct communication with the field
centres and the affected communities themselves. It was necessary to involve
them in the planning process on a regular basis and at each and every stage.
Also recheck the draft plans with the affected communities, get their feed back
and modify and finalise the plans accordingly. However speed and urgency were of
essence, looking at the large scale of planning. Also large number of villages
and communities had to be involved in limited time.
therefore, used the satellite communication Satcom mode, for interactive
talk back sessions for planning with the communities.
a week, talk-back sessions of Satcom are held, where the villagers from the
affected blocks participated at the village and block level in interactive
dialogue with Panel of Engineers, Planners, Architects and Government officials
based at Ahmedabad. This medium of IT communication proved very fast and
effective for first hand participatory planning.
the sessions, the concerned Government authorities also remained present. Hence,
the coordination to be done with the concerned Government departments and
officials is also met with.
within a short span of 15 days, SEWA was able to complete village level micro
plans for integrated village rehabilitation for more than 100 villages.
day to day situation of the affected villages, the relief, the health status,
the livelihood needs and rehabilitation is all coordinated. Rehabilitation
planning, designing, and development becomes more interactive and participative.
in order to have effective disaster preparedness and mitigation, access to
Information Technology medium at block and village level is utmost need.
It is proposed to design and develop Community Control Rooms in the four affected districts and three at-risk districts equipped with mobile phones, sat phones, Satcom facilities, and V-sat to mitigate impact of disasters and enhance community preparedness through Information Technology.