Kullu (Himachal Pradesh), June 5 (IANS) To sensitise the local people, largely villagers, and set a record, 206 stage shows by students of senior secondary schools were performed simultaneously on Sunday across Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district spread over 5,503 square km under a community-based disaster risk management project.
Fourteen locations in six other districts — Hamirpur, Sirmaur, Una, Bilaspur, Mandi and Chamba — also joined the project in an effort to reduce fatalities from natural disasters and to recognise the role of the local and particularly the community level for disaster risk management.
“An attempt has been made to sensitise the people threatened by disaster to prepare them to take an active part in disaster risk management,” Additional Deputy Commissioner Prashant Sirkek, the brain behind the project, told IANS.
The local disaster risk management capabilities have been built up under the project named JUARE (Joint United Actions for Resilience in Emergencies), he said.
In the local dialect, JUARE is a concept of community partnership towards collectively achieving individual and social goals like crop harvesting, festival, marriage, funeral, etc. This inherent cultural advantage of mountain society is an ideal take-off point for the implementation of an effective Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) programme.
Sirkek said the stage drama, which covered 235 gram panchayats, saw the largest voluntary participants of over 25,000 people. “The exact number of participants for the event will be revealed by compiling the data in a day or two.”
A team of the Asia Book of Records monitored shows, which were of 35-40 minute duration, for evaluation of the maximum number of participants in a community-based disaster risk management training on a single day.
Each play has 10 student artistes. Students of 156 government and 50 private senior secondary schools participated in the event.
National Disaster Management Authority’s Joint Advisor Nawal Prakash was in Kullu to monitor the community-based disaster risk management project.
He was impressed with a good participation by locals even in two remotest villages — Shakti and Maror, located in the vicinity of the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) with no electricity, telecommunication and road connectivity.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur had last week launched a week-long JUARE programme from Kullu town.
At the launch, he said the programme, based on community participation, was ambitious and would ensure the participation of village panchayats, urban local bodies, school students for community risk, and preparation of resource maps and identification of volunteers for civil protection at the time of disaster.
Kullu district is an entirely mountainous region with the biggest valley formed by the mighty Beas river, stretching approximately 90 km with the main urban centres — Kullu and Manali.
The altitude in the district ranges between 833 m to 3,330 m above the sea level.
The district has a large number of glacially-fed big and small rivers and streams, but they are not navigable because of the high gradient and the strong current.
The hills of Himachal Pradesh, especially in Chamba, Kinnaur, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Sirmaur and Una districts, are prone to natural disasters like flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides.