'Quake' to hit Tricity at 10.30 am today

Rs 30-lakh exercise conceived by NDMA to see preparedness of agencies

AT 10.30 am on Wednesday, the Tricity — Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali — and Shimla will experience an "earthquake" at 15 different locations each. No, this is not a prediction but a piece of information about a mock exercise that will be conducted to check the preparedness of various agencies, including police and fire department, to tackle such a situation in reality.

After almost over year-long preparations, D-day has come when a project, ''Mw 8, Mandi Earthquake Scenario: Multi-State Exercise and Awareness Campaign'', conceived by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in December 2011 will finally be implemented.

A siren will be blown for a minute at 10.30 am, and officials from key departments like police, fire and emergency services, medical services, ambulance services, municipal corporation, revenue department, PWD, electricity, water and communication will be on their feet. Home Guards, civil defence volunteers, and members of NGOs will also take part.

A scenario of destruction, loss of life and injured will be indicated by the observers for the exercise. The observers at different locations will also simulate related situations like disruption of services at some places. At all the 15 sites, batches of 15 policemen will be available depending on the situation thus created.

"The general public is only requested to cooperate during the entire exercise. There is no need to panic. The earmarked buildings and locations will be evacuated depending on the situation which will be simulated tomorrow," said V K Duggal, an NDMA official.

Independent observers from Army will audit the exercise as a third party. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will deploy 30 teams from Bathinda, Gaziabad and Gandhinagar Battalions. The exercise will unfold like a real-life earthquake scenario with gradual response from the local community, the district and state and even Central forces coming to the aid of authorities of four states

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