Pets and other animals get least attention during disasters: Par Panel

Pets and other animals get least attention during disasters while the focus is always on human beings, a Parliamentary panel has said as it asked the Union Home Ministry frame guidelines to extend the protection cover to animals.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), chaired by Congress MP K V Thomas, said the Home Ministry should prepare a list of animal welfare organisations that can be given the task of saving pets and livestocks and can be contacted by citizens during disasters.

In its report ‘Disaster Preparedness in India’, the panel said the Disaster Management Act has specified measures including the evacuation of animals from an area of disaster but is “silent on ensuring their safety and rehabilitation”.

Livestock are economic assets for village folk and their loss affects them in a substantial manner, it said.

“Still, whenever disaster happens, the focus during relief work is always on people only. Pets, animals and livestock belonging to affected people fail to get any attention from the relief workers,” the panel said.

The committee was of the view that the existing guidelines to cover protection of state disaster management plans issued by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) should be expanded to cover protection of animals during disasters, since protection of animals is “responsibility of states”.

The handbook for training and capacity building of civil defence and sister organisations should include a specific chapter dedicated to evacuation, rescue and rehabilitation of pet animals and livestock during disasters.

It also should include the involvement of state governments and state-run animal welfare organisations that can be given the task of saving pets and livestock.

In another recommendation, the committee also asked the Ministry to actively explore the possibility of putting heat wave in the list of natural disaster covered under National Disaster Relief Fund.

Quoting reports, the committee said that sun has become the second biggest killer after water and its victims have increased by over 60 per cent in the last decade. Thousands died because of ineffective heat management plans by the government.

The Home Ministry has also ready revised norms of SDRF/NDRF and states can now use 10 per cent of their disaster management funds for state specific local disasters.

(Dec 10, 2015)

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