Disaster strikes again

The fire that broke out and devasted Chamkhar town in Bumthang is one of the most recent examples of just how dangerous fire can be when it is out of control. I feel terribly sorry, like many others, for the relatives of the ones who perished in this fire. One can’t even begin to imagine what the families must be going thorough. It’s no easy ordeal having to rebuild a home all over again let alone coping with a loss of a loved one. I hope they find the strength to perserve and overcome this difficult time. I know His Majesty the 4th Druk Gyalpo’s presence at such a fragile moment with the community would have come as a source of comfort as always. The mobilization of aid resources from the Gyalpoi Zimpon’s office and Government agencies can make a big difference as it had done in the past during the September earthquake in the east.

As a society we learn, from good fortunes as well as misfortunes. Disaster vulnerability as we now know is something we can not exactly predict but we can try and mitigate risks. The disaster management department under the ministry of home affairs initiated several activities following the September earthquake. An exercise engaged various stakeholders including law makers on the need for a peice of legislation to managed disaster. A document which could become the impetus of a disaster management legislation was also presented on which a respectable amount of discussions took place.

The response of agencies during past and present calamities and disaster has been most effective as far as I can see. Can we always afford to hope it would come through as it has so far? During the 5th session of the National Council, in it’s discussion it asked the Government to considering including the disaster management bill for discussions in the next parliamentary session. It remains to be seen if it would be included. A crucial part of the discussion of the bill would be the establishment of His Majesty’s Relief Fund as enshrined in our Constitution.

One might ask since we are operating through some structures, why would a piece of legislation make any difference. It is important here to understand that while a process maybe in existence, not only does discussion allow room for a more comprehensive picture but a legislation would actually mandate out clear responsibilities. Therefore, not only is it important that we pass a legisaltion to that effect but by doing so allocate enough resources to responsible agents in oder for them to perform consistently.



About Sangay Khandu

Elected to Parliament of Bhutan twice. Previously worked with the Central Bank, the largest SoE (power utility) and international organization.
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