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Sikkim quake wakes government to norms on disaster management

Under flak for being ill-prepared to respond to the Sikkim earthquake in time, the Union Home ministry is expected to revisit the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines.
The NDMA guidelines recommend stationing of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams in the capitals of all the north-eastern states, besides Port Blair and Srinagar, as all of them are highly earthquake prone — coming under the most vulnerable seismic zone V.
As the nodal ministry, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) is responsible for constituting, training and deployment of the NDRF teams.
“The NDRF teams could not reach the affected parts of Sikkim in time because they were not in the correct deployment mode,” government sources told DNA.
With the rescue and relief teams of the Army, the ITBP and the NDRF managing to reach interior areas, the real picture of the devastating earthquake in Sikkim started emerging only on Wednesday.
About 700 houses have collapsed, of which 500 have reported to be substantially damaged.Indian Air Force choppers have so far done 30 sorties to air drop relief and do reconnaissance.
The Centre constituted an inter-ministerial team on Wednesday to visit the affected places and give recommendations for assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi did an aerial survey of North Sikkim, besides visiting an affected village and a hospital. He was accompanied by Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling.
Union home minister P Chidambaram will visit Gangtok on Thursday to review the relief work, an MHA spokesperson said.