Mandi (Himachal Pradesh)

Delays and a lack of a contingency plan have exposed Himachal Pradesh’s lack of preparedness to a disaster – natural or man-made, said survivors of a disaster.

For hours the survivors, most of them from the plains, were baffled as nobody from the local administration was there to help them out. “If the administration reacted immediately, 10 to 15 lives could be saved,” an emotional Kumar said.

According to him, there were no hoardings to warn the tourists not to go near the flowing water.

The disaster has exposed state’s poor disaster response — rescue, relief distribution and rehabilitation, said an official involved in rescue and rehabilitation operations.

There was no early warning system before the release of excess water, he said. Several shortcomings surfaced during the crisis. “There was a total lack of coordination among agencies involved in relief and rescue operations. No nodal officer was appointed at the state-level to coordinate and monitor the operations,” said the official. Second, he said, there was no mechanism for reaching out to the families of the affected people in the shortest possible time. Third, no senior official in the state headquarters was assigned to brief the media about the rescue and relief efforts.

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