The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Thursday conducted a first-of-its-kind state-level mock exercise on forest fires in Uttarakhand, a state with 70 per cent of its area under forests where incidents of fires are common.
Aimed at assessing the integration of response mechanisms of the forest department with those of the district administration, the mock exercise was conducted in collaboration with the state government.
The simulation-exercise was conducted simultaneously at multiple locations, including residential areas adjoining forests, across all 13 districts covering different types of forests and varying degrees of severity of forest fires.
NDMA expert Maj Gen V K Datta (retd), who led the exercise, briefed about the proceedings of the day. As soon as reports of fire incidents started flowing in from districts, all senior officials reached the State Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) within a short time.
They analysed the situation and issued instructions to districts for responding to the forest fires.
Simultaneously, officials in the districts also assembled at their respective EOCs, formed response teams and swung into action.
Using various techniques and equipment, fires were doused and affected people and animals were rescued.
The exercises were conducted in coordination with various agencies such as fire, forest, Army, health, police, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and civil defence.
After the drills, a post-exercise analysis was carried out in which all concerned officials took part and discussed the shortcomings and ways to improve them.
The mock exercise was part of a three-day event which began with a coordination conference on 18 April, followed by a table-top exercise on 19 April.
These meetings were held to ensure that necessary arrangements for conducting the mock exercise were put in
NDMA has so far conducted more than 550 mock exercises in different states and Union Territories for various disaster situations in its efforts to improve preparedness and response mechanisms for various disaster situations.