The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has released the disaster management plan (DMP) for the power sector in a bid to evolve a proactive and integrated approach to strengthen disaster mitigation, preparedness, emergency response, and recovery efforts.

“The DMP provides a framework and direction to the utilities in the power sector for all phases of the disaster management cycle (Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery). It is intended to guide all agencies within the sector with a general concept of potential emergencies and roles and assignments before, during, and following emergency situations,” CEA said.

The plan comes close on the heels of the Government investigating instances of land subsidence in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath, the gateway to pilgrimage sites, such as Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib. Environmentalists blame it on rampant unplanned construction by locals and government agencies, as well as over population.

The issue of land subsiding in the hilly state of Uttarakhand also raises concerns on the fate of India’s attempts to increase hydropower generation.

The DMP is also in conformity with the ten-point agenda articulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his inaugural speech at the Asian Ministerial Conference on disaster risk reduction in November 2016.

It includes investing in risk mapping globally, creating a network of universities working on disaster-related issues, leveraging social media and mobile technologies for disaster risk reduction, as well as building local capacities for disaster management, reduction, and relief.

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Power infrastructure

The CEA emphasised that to estimate threats to power infrastructure, it is pertinent that fragility and vulnerability analysis is carried out for civil structures like buildings, tall structures, foundations in the generation infrastructures, towers, gantry structures, and foundations in transmission and distribution facilities.

“Accurately assessing climate risks is difficult because of the uncertainty in predicting the level and timing of climate threats. While uncertainty caused by climate change is unavoidable, electric utilities can manage risks by considering different climate scenarios and potential impacts on their assets, the investment options available, and the robustness of the proposed options,” it added.

CEA stressed that risk assessment of electric power generation stations, transmission, distribution, and grid operations infrastructure is an important step in ensuring reliable power supply and quick restoration even in times of extreme weather events and natural disasters.

“Aim of such analysis is to evolve methods for finding quantitative risk involved in power wheeling networks to devise effective strategies for prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery. Risk analysis involves vulnerability assessment of electrical establishments, including its equipment and hazard assessment of the site/region of interest,” the plan added.

This will be helpful for policy and decision-makers to evaluate strategies and measures for critical infrastructure planning and protection.

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Social media

Social media has become a vital tool aiding the Government to jump into action to exact locations, disseminate information to a wider audience, know the ground reality, and so on. It could be useful for rescue, rehabilitation, and relief during disaster management, CEA said in the plan document.

It suggests the use of social media for emergencies and disasters on an organisational level to be conceived of in two broad categories. First, social media can be used passively to disseminate information and receive user feedback via incoming messages, wall posts, and polls.

Second involves the use of social media as an emergency management tool for conducting emergency communications and issuing warnings; monitoring user activities and posts to establish situational awareness and, using uploaded images to create damage estimates, among others.