6 more months before PMC’s emergency number is functional
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Dial 108 in case of a disaster or emergency. The number may have been allotted to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) by the telecom authorities but it will take another six months for it to get activated. After the German Bakery blasts two years ago, the civic authorities have been planning an ambitious disaster management cell at the PMC headquarters. However, it got a nod only a fortnight ago.
Pravin Ashtekar, Deputy Commissioner (Special) and in charge of the disaster management cell at PMC, admitted that after the blast two years, a plan was drawn out, which included the setting up a disaster management cell at the PMC. "It was planned to be on the lines of cell run by the state government and have all the authorities in place — right from health officers, police, electrical department officers and others — on call 24/7," Ashtekar said.
However, this disaster management cell will take another six months to start working. "The administration has sanctioned Rs 25 lakh. It was a matter of selecting a suitable site for the cell. We have decided to set it up on the fifth floor of the PMC office," Ashtekar said. A ward-wise disaster management plan has been prepared and efforts have been underway for the last couple of months to set up video conferencing facilities, Ashtekar said.
Indian Medical Association (IMA) officials, however, said that the pace was slackening. While IMA has put up detailed guidelines on its websites, Dr Prakash Marathe, in charge of the disaster management cell, admits that not many projects proposed by the earlier committees could take off. This includes coordination with police to identify doctors and give them identity cards to enable direct access to the site of disaster.
An appeal to invite medical and non-medical persons as volunteers in the disaster management plan, too, does not have many takers, IMA officials said. However, Marathe said plans were being revived and several workshops to train were planned for training PMC doctors. One such workshop is scheduled on October 3. District authorities said they have informally interacted with IMA doctors and hospital authorities to set up an 'emergency management' forum. Suhas Divase, in charge of the Pune Management Disaster Division System, said, "We are trying to ensure coordination between officials so that the key person can be contacted in an emergency."
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