A massive State-level mock drill exercise for an earthquake scenario was carried out successfully at pre-designated locations in the capital city Gangtok and different parts of all four districts of Sikkim on Wednesday. The mock exercise was planned and executed through an Incident Response System protocol designed by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) which is followed to tackle disasters throughout the country.
The entire exercise at the State level was headed by the Chief Secretary, AK Shrivastava, who was the Responsible Officer, along with the State Relief Commissioner as the Incident Commander in charge of issuing all the orders. They were assisted by a set of officers and field staff and all stakeholders. A similar protocol was followed at the district level with the District Collector (DC) being the Responsible Officer, aided by the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) or Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) as the Incident Commander and other officers of the district administration taking various roles and responsibilities.
A mock scenario was created where an earthquake of magnitude 8.7 on Richter Scale struck at
11:15 am, with its epicentre at Shillong, Meghalaya and strong tremors felt across Sikkim and West Bengal triggered situations of landslides, buildings toppling, stampede, fire and challenges of evacuating large number of people from a campus.
The State Emergency Operation Centre or the Main Control Room was set up at the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority (SSDMA) office at Manan Kendra. The staging area was set up at Paljor Stadium from where all the men and resources were mobilised to all the locations. The five locations in Gangtok were landslide scenario at Sichey, buildings toppling near Vajra Cinema Hall, fire outbreak at Khadi Bhawan Deorali, stampede at Trends Store in MG Marg and mass evacuation at Nar Bahadur Bhandari Degree College in Tadong. Apart from these locations, STNM Hospital and CRH Manipal were roped in for medical emergency services.
Same type of incidents and scenario were staged in different places in all four districts and coordinated efforts were seen from all response teams and composite task force constituted for executing the rescue and relief work. The exercises were conducted in coordination with police, Fire Service, Forest Department, Army, Health Department, State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), Civil Defence and all Line Departments.
After the State-level mock exercise, all the stakeholders, the observers from the Army and responders on the ground gathered at the mini auditorium at Manan Kendra for de-briefing on the day’s exercise. The independent observers deputed at various locations gave feedback and suggestions on the mock exercise. The Site Supervisors assigned at each location also shared their experiences from the exercise.
Addressing the gathering, Secretary Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department-cum-State Relief Commissioner, Tsegyal Tashi, congratulated and thanked all the officers and stakeholders to simulate a major disaster situation. He said that the exercise has given practical experience to the stakeholders to deal with any real life disasters.
Senior Consultant [ME & IRS], NDMA, General VK Datta, who was instrumental in designing the mock exercise and guiding the SSDMA, commended all the participants for “good coordination and execution”. He stated that lessons learnt from this mock exercise can be used to improve upon the Response System in the State.
Later, Chief Secretary AK Shrivastava interacted with the DCs and officers of the district administration through video conferencing and took feedback about the mock exercise carried out in the districts. Commending the efforts of everybody involved in the mock exercise, he stated that this was the biggest mock exercise staged in Sikkim as it continued for the whole day and throughout the State. He said that all the feedback and the gaps have been noted and will be addressed on “priority basis”.