Dealing with disasters - The BJS Way


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From Latur earthquake in 1993 to the Tsunamis in Andaman and Nicobar , the BJS has been at the forefront when it came to rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the victims these operations were not limited to the initial rescue and relief, but went on to ensure proper rehabilitation of as many victims as possible.

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Dealing with disasters - The BJS Way

  1. 1. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way1Dealing with Disasters – The BJS WayShriram Shinde
  2. 2. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way3IndexNatural disaster, unnatural destruction.................... 10From rehab to rebirth....................................... 17Residing on shaky grounds .................................. 32Minimising adverse effects ................................. 40Ensuring rehab through schools ............................ 43Rebuilding lives after tsunami ............................. 58A ray of hope for less fortunate lives ..................... 61Crushed by the crowd ...................................... 72Healing broken hearts ....................................... 81A giant step towards enhanced education ............... 89When clouds open up ....................................... 98Rescue, rehabilitation and much more .................. 109A blessing in disguise ....................................... 118
  3. 3. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way4PrologueDisasters can either be natural or man-made, butall of them adversely affect human life, property or normalactivity. They can cause serious disruption of the functionsof a society, causing widespread losses to human life,material or environment.Though warning systems for natural disasters haveimproved tremendously and natural calamities do not comeunannounced, victims are unable to cope up with theirown resources. They badly need external help. Initially,to be rescued from the site and finally, to be able toreturn to normal life. The latter is more important andcomparatively difficult.Basic needs of the disaster victims like shelter,clothing and food can be met through material aid andservice provided on a humanitarian ground. Necessarymedical aid can also be made available to save humanlives. However, relief supplies and services can be providedonly in the period immediately after a sudden disaster.Non-governmental organisations, governments, businesshouses and generous individuals rush to disaster site toprovide as much assistance as possible. But what happensafter the primary rescue and relief is a story that nobodyknows.Being a journalist, my profession gave me anopportunity to witness quite a few disasters that occurred
  4. 4. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way5in Maharashtra and neighbouring states like Gujarat. Thedestruction caused by these disasters was highly disturbingand presented a picture as if these devastated areas willnever be able to return to normalcy and come back tolife. But they did, and life once again came back on tracks,leaving behind unforgettable memories of the dark,disastrous moments.For many of the survivors and their kin,rehabilitation was not an easy process, and it certainlydid not happen without external assistance. Majority ofthe victims of disasters like the devastating earthquakeswhich struck Latur and Osmanabad districts of Maharashtrain 1993, had lost almost everything in the calamity. Withcollapsed houses, dead family members and lost hopes,they had nothing to help them survive. They badly neededa helping hand that could take them far ahead in theirjourney of life.While the unfortunate ones became victims of thedisasters, some fortunate lives fell into the hand oforganisations like the Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS).Founded to bring about positive changes in the society,the BJS contributed in a large way towards securing thefuture of the younger generation of disaster-victims whowould have otherwise lost the battle of life.And this was not limited to just one disaster. As amatter of fact, Latur earthquakes marked the beginningof many such humanitarian tasks undertaken by the BJS
  5. 5. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way6during several such calamities that subsequently hit thenation. From Latur earthquake in 1993 to the Tsunamis inAndaman and Nicobar, the BJS has been at the forefrontwhen it came to rescue, relief and rehabilitation of thevictims. And fortunately, these operations were not limitedto the initial rescue and relief, but went on to ensureproper rehabilitation of as many victims as possible.More importantly, the BJS focused on somethingbeyond, rescue, relief and rehabilitation. In most of thecases, steps have been taken to equip the local populationwith means and measure to face with courage a similarcalamity, if it happens to strike again. And certainly, thiswas more important than anything else.While the government and other NGOs werefocusing on relief and rehabilitation of the victims in Laturand Osmanabad, the BJS focused on the future generation.Young students from the quake affected families wereadopted for educational rehabilitation. For the adoptedstudents, this was a new beginning in life. Their decisionto accept the challenge and move out of their villages didnot only change the direction of their life, it changedtheir destiny.For BJS, too, this was a new beginning. It was thebeginning of a new era in the field disaster management.Lessons learned during the Latur and Osmanabad earthquakeproved to be useful in disasters that followed. In Gujarat,the BJS continued with its performance which provided
  6. 6. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way7solace to thousands of families that had fallen victims to amassive earthquake. This time too, the idea of educationalrehabilitation of the quake affected children was notignored. However, considering the fact that relocation ofthe children would be difficult or rather impossible, theBJS thought of another novel idea. That of pre-fabricatedstructures which could be erected quickly in order to avoiddelay in restarting academic activities which wouldotherwise have led to a large number of students droppingout of studies and eventually taking wrong steps in life.Equipped with the experience, requisite infrastructure,trained manpower and a strong network of volunteers,the Tsunami waves, which struck Tamil Nadu and theAndaman & Nicobar Islands, posed a big challenge beforethe BJS. Without wasting any time, the BJS sprung inaction and effectively conducted rescue and relief activitiesthere. For the third consecutive disaster in succession,the BJS involved itself into educational rehabilitation ofthe quake affected children. Eleven schools werereconstructed with great difficulty on different islands inremotest of locations. The entire activity was so impressivethat the Andaman & Nicobar administration requested BJSto undertake restoration of health and medical serviceswhich had completely collapsed as an impact of the killerwaves. Taking up this challenge, BJS established 34primary health centres and sub-centres to ensure that healthservices could return to normalcy in as short a period as
  7. 7. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way8possible. Quick decision making and fast implementationresulted into an imaginable speed which could not bematched by anyone. In fact, some of the BJS projectswere completed and ready for inauguration even whengovernment projects were yet to be launched.Another feather in the BJS camp was the educationalrehabilitation project of students in Jammu & Kashmir.Futuristic thinking by the BJS once again resulted in fasterand effective relief operations in this case. Temporaryrehabilitation of the quake affected families was of utmostimportance since the earthquake had struck at a timewhen the winter was just round-the-corner and survivalof the homeless families would have been impossible ifthere did not have proper shelter. The pre-fabricatedstructures, used to erect school buildings in Gujarat camehandy and helped provide the highly requisite kind ofassistance in the valley.While housing was taken care of in pre-fabricatedstructures erected by the BJS, educational rehabilitationof the students was still a question, and BJS by now, had aperfect solution for the problem. The BJS was nowequipped with a state-of-the-art educational rehabilitationcentre which was build, used and proven successful afterhaving successfully rehabilitated disaster-affected children.Making major alterations in the previously implementededucational rehabilitation programme, the BJS also tookteachers from J&K along with the students. This was done
  8. 8. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way9in order to be able to continue with the on-going syllabusand academic activities, which the students were beingmade to leave half-the-way, due to the disaster.Floods in Bihar, took the BJS to the fourth cornerof the country’s expanse thus making it a social organisationwith a strong network spread all over the country. Thesuccess of all these rescue, relief and rehabilitation projectsdoes not lie in their quick and effective implementation.But it lies in the fact that disaster affected children fromone part of the country, felt for their counter parts inother similar situations and came forward to provideassistance.Over the years, disasters have had a devastatingimpact on various parts of the country. Simultaneously,they have also resulted in emergence of a strongestablishment with a nation-wide team of volunteers,equipped with proper training, infrastructure and resourcesto face any similar calamity in the future.And all this, is a result of the vision and leadershipof a young man, who came from a poor family residing inone of the small villages in Maharashtra. A dynamicyoungster, who faced many difficulties in his childhood,but grew up with a mission to eradicate these difficultiesfrom the lives of as many human beings as possible. Thesuccess story is here for all of us to read and emulate…- Shriram Shinde
  9. 9. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way10Natural disaster, unnatural destructionThe very first experience helped BJS build a strongfoundation for similar calamities in the future. Theorganisation is now equipped with infrastructure,equipment and experience in handling such situations..Disasters are most of the times so destructive that in theirwake, everything has to be rebuilt. Earthquakes, tsunamis,floods, volcanoes and other disasters, natural and man-made, are milestones in the human story, serving both asendpoints and starting lines. For Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana,destruction followed by disasters turned out to be anopportunity to build a strong infrastructure, strategy and ateam of trained personnel to face similar situations in thefuture and to create a new, better society rather thanfashioning a duplicated copy of the old...Disasters, either natural or man-made, have alwayshad a devastating effect. Eeven with prediction and earlyalarms, people do not seem to have taken properprecautions to avoid the aftermath. Floods, earthquakes,cyclones and landslides come and go, but they leave behindruined homes, businesses and shattered lives.Destructive strikes of earthquakes, floods, droughtsand other hazards are known to have caused unimaginabledestruction in the country. However, the effects getaggravated due to climate change, unsuitable social anddevelopment policies besides environmental degradation.
  10. 10. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way11As a consequence, the affected areas witness slower orcompletely blocked development thus keeping millionstrapped in poverty.Besides affecting human life and causing tremendousdestruction, they have left a permanent impact on theminds of the victims. Frequent occurrences of naturalcalamities have proved that human civilisation can nolonger live away from disasters. Consequently, the humanpopulation has become increasingly vulnerable to suchincidences.Considering the geo-climatic conditions of India,the country has witnessed a large number of recurringdisasters of the last few decades. Losses to human lifeand property have hit the country through disasters likefloods, earthquakes, droughts, cyclones and landslides, notto mention man-made disasters like accidental fire, riotsand terror attacks. The country has sustained severe lossesdue to damage to property owned by individuals,community and the government. All this was in additionto human lives lost during each one of these.Be it the earthquakes in Latur-Osmanabad districts ofMaharashtra in 1993, the Akola floods in 1997, Gujaratearthquake in 2001 or the Andaman Tsunami in 2004, , BJShas always been at the forefront of the relief and rescueactivities which have resulted in appreciation and respectfrom other agencies and survivors of the tragedy.
  11. 11. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way12When it comes to natural disasters, Maharashtrawitnessed a major destruction and loss of lives inSeptember 1993, when an earthquake hit the Latur andOsmanabad districts. Measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale,the quake caused enormous loss of lives and damage toproperty. While a large number of local residents had topay with their lives, thousands were left homeless anddestitute.Though donor response was quick, logisticaldifficulties made it impossible for the requisite assistanceto reach the needy in time. Concerns about corruptionand doubts whether the aid will reach those who need it,further delayed the rehabilitation of the quake affected.The earthquake in Latur and Osmanabad were one of thoseevents so vast in scope as to be impossible to reallycomprehend from afar. While no place deserves this kindof devastation, Latur was perhaps the worst place forsuch a disaster. On hearing the news, many humanitarianagencies responded to this disaster for the relief and rescueoperations.Among the first to react and reach out to Latur wasthe Pune-based Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS). Equippedwith dedicated volunteers, BJS reached the disaster sitewithin few hours of the tragedy. Adopting nine villagesfrom among the worst hit areas, BJS initiated rescue andrelief operations after setting up camps at each one ofthem. Availability of requisite infrastructure like generator
  12. 12. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way13sets, wireless communication equipment, proper supplyof food, tents and utensils facilitated fast and disciplinedrelief activity.Considering that provision of food was criticallyimportant, BJS started off with freshly prepared food forabout 30,000 victims for more than about a month. Inaddition, relief material like blankets, warm clothing andlamps were also supplied along with medical assistance.Appreciation came from other volunteer and donororganisation in the form of a large amount of reliefmaterial. This was a result of the organisational skills anddiscipline displayed in the rescue and relief operationsimplemented by the BJS. Besides providing relief, BJSvolunteers who worked in nearly adverse conditions, didnot hesitate while helping the victims in cremating thebodies of their near and dear ones.This was the first experience for the BJS and itsvolunteers towards providing rescue and relief to victimsof an earthquake. Their first experience helped build astrong foundation for similar calamities in the future. Theorganisation was now equipped with infrastructure,equipment and experience in handling such situations.Committed to provide best of its services during disastersof such magnitude, the BJS fine tuned their responsemechanism, thus being prepared for any such eventualities.was then realised that the initial time required for basicrelief operation to begin, has to be reduced to as low as
  13. 13. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way14possible in order to reduce the trauma of the survivors.This called for being prepared for speedy and effectiverelief operations in case of any emergency. The BJStherefore took up the task of training volunteers toperform various roles and undertook responsibilities thatwould be required to be undertaken during disasters. Theorganisation also felt the need for well organised supplyof relief material with effective co-ordination betweenorganisations including the government, NGOs and themedia. Proper planning and advance preparation of reliefoperations had to be done to achieve these goals.Considering the lessons it has learned out of theexperience it has had since its first rescue and reliefoperation, the overall approach of the BJS was completelydifferent than that of other humanitarian organisationsand agencies involved in similar activities. Being spreadall over the country and having a strong network ofvolunteers in every corner of the country as well as theworld, has proved to be the main strength of the BJS. Itsstrong network helps the BJS assemble and initiate a teamof volunteers to reach the site of disasters within a fewhours. Apart from being emotionally committed, the BJSteam of volunteers in properly trained and well equippedto handle any kind of situation which it may have to. Thismakes the operations, smooth, disciplined and hence,effective.
  14. 14. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way15The extremely sensitised task force of BJS does not onlytake efforts towards ensuring provision of requisiteassistance in rescue and relief of the victims, it also ensuresthat the activity is done without harming the dignity ofthe affected individuals. With clearly defined roles andresponsibilities, members of the relief operation teamwork in proper co-ordination with other teams ensuringcommunication which is clear and precise. The process ofrestoring normalcy in the disaster hit areas gets acceleratedand provides complete assurance to the victims as theBJS team works at the disaster site. Innovative design ofrescue and rehabilitation material which can be usedrepeatedly has helped BJS save on resources as the samematerial can be used during various disasters, thus savingon finance as well as time taken to procuring suchmaterial.Extensive knowledge and experience in providingrescue and relief during disasters, a ready stock of requiredequipment and a capability to mobilise resources forcollection of all kinds of relief material, an strong networkof volunteers and a well developed strategy has made BJSone of the strongest agency in the country. BJS is equippedenough to spring in action even before structural engineersaccess the extent of damage and examine buildings thatare still left standing and determine whether they’re safefor habitation. The BJS has managed to develop ways tobuild pre-fabricated housing and classrooms that can betougher and more resistant to quakes. Besides being
  15. 15. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way16reusable, these structures are easy to assemble, thus makingthe rehabilitation process faster and effective.The feather was added to the camp of the BJS during theJammu & Kashmir earthquake where an apex body likethe National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)approached the BJS before deciding the strategy andexecution of the rescue and relief operations.Ever since then, the relations between the BJS and theNDMA improvoed to an extent where both, the BJS andthe NDMA continued to compliment each other whileworking during natural disasters that followed thereafter.
  16. 16. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way17Latur-Osmanabad Earthquake 1993From rehab to rebirthFor Latur and Osmanabad, every annual Ganeshfestival evokes mixed emotions. The festival induces afeeling of celebration and reverence, but it is also areminder of that deadly dawn of 1993 when devastationvisited these districts of Maharashtra on the back of anearthquake which destroyed lives and left homes andinfrastructure in ruin. However, this was followed by aray of hope, a helping hand which brightened the futureof over a thousand quake-affected children...Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana’s association with socialissues began with the riots that followed the destructionof the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in January 1993. Unlikeprevious riots, violence was dispersed and it spread torelatively newly urbanised areas. Arson, killings and thedestruction of property occurred in distinctively differentkinds of areas. Violence affected not only slums but alsoapartment blocks and chawls. What was common to allthe areas was the systematic targeting of Muslims.Taking a pro-active step, the BJS thought ofconducting a peace march across the state from Pune toNagpur. Leaders of religions like Hindu, Muslim and Jain,participated in the march along with prominent politicalleaders and social workers. All of them had come togetherto promote a single cause, that of peace and harmony.
  17. 17. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way18While this was just abeginning, a major challengeawaited the BJS in the formof a devastating earthquakethat struck Latur andOsmanabad districts ofMaharashtra at 3.56 am onSeptember 30, 1993.Measuring 6.3 on theRichter scale, the quakeresulted in an extensive scaleof devastation. Over 70villages were affected andmost of them were reducedto piles of stone and rubble. Alarge number of people losttheir lives while many were injured.The calamity did not only send waves of shocks allover the country but also left the scientific communitysurprised because the Deccan region of India, where Laturand Osmanabad were located, was not considered proneto serious seismic activity. The houses and otherinfrastructure of the area were not constructed towithstand an earthquake of this magnitude. This led toextensive damage to houses and other property. Thesurvivors were left to face an extremely uncertain future.On one side, all rescuecamps witnessed a hugerush of earthquake-victimsin Latur, on the other,victims belonging to well-to-do families were notwilling to receive charityand refrained fromaccepting food or otherkinds of relief. BJSvolunteers had to makeextra efforts to convincethem to come forward andavail of the facility…
  18. 18. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way19The statistical details about the impact of the disasterwere shocking. While about 300,000 people lost theirhomes and belongings, there were around 10000 casualtiesincluding a large number of women, children and theelderly. About three lakh were rendered homeless whilethe number of orphaned and destitute children was around5000.BJS stepped in to help and adopted nine of theworst hit villages from Osmanabad and Latur districts. Itwas decided to provide assistance in rescue and relief atSastur, Holi, Holithanda, Rajegaon, Rebi Chincholi,Thavshijad, Pettsanghvi, Nandurga, and Katechincholi. Theactivity began with establishment of a main camp at Sasturwith requisite material like generators, wirelesscommunication sets, perishable food items, tents andutensils.For the first few hours after the tragedy, work wasimpossible in Sastur since the electric supply gotdiscontinued. After arranging for power generators, BJSlit up the area around Sastur with 200 halogen lamps thatfacilitated the work of government officials, relief workersand other NGOs who had rushed to the quake-affectedarea for assessment of the damage and initiation of therelief activity. To providing relief right from the veryfirst day after the disaster, BJS volunteers had reachedthe affected area within few hours of the tragedy. Wellmanaged BJS camps that resulted in good quality of rescue
  19. 19. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way20and relief work, drew words of genuine appreciation fromseveral national leaders who visited the site after thequake.While a qualitative assessment of the loss of life anddamage to property was going to take time, it was ofprime importance to provide food and medical assistanceto the quake-affected villagers. Accordingly, under theleadership of Sharad Pawar (then chief minister ofMaharashtra), Madanlal Bafna (former state minister) andPadam Sinh Patil (state minister), BJS provided food todisaster-victims twice-a-day for 15 days in the nineadopted villages.About 30,000 disaster-affected individualsavailed of the service for more than a month. In order tofacilitate proper preparation and supply of cooked foodto the disaster victims, cooking arrangements were madeaway from the disaster spot. These were located atAurangabad and Barshi, thus reducing the load at the siteof the disaster and cooked food was then carried to theaffected areas for distribution.The moral of the volunteers got an additional boost whenAmerican Ambassador Flynn visited the community kitchenrun by BJS at Sastur and expressed appreciation withregards to the measures of safety and hygiene beingadopted by volunteers at the kitchen.Provision of cooked food sufficed the need of thesurvivors. But another major requirement was the provisionof medical aid to those who were injured in the calamity.
  20. 20. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way21The BJS took theresponsibility and distributedessential medicines to thevictims. A team of doctorswas made available at thesite to provide round-the-clock medical assistance.This facility proved to behighly useful for the victimsas they could walk into thecentre and avail of thefacilities at any time during the day or during emergencies.Simultaneously, it was important to help the quakevictims in recovering from the shock caused by the lossesthey had sustained to that they could be rehabilitated atthe earliest. This activity began with distribution ofessential material including household items, clothing andother essential goods of day-to-day use. Accordingly, BJSdistributed 200 utensils, 50000 sweaters, 10000 blanketsand 4000 sarees to the earthquake victims residing in thenine adopted villages. Quake hit families were alsoprovided with essential items of day-do-day use like bedsheets, clothes, mats, plastic containers and lamps. Tofacilitate and bring about faster rehabilitation, BJS wiselyestablished a floor mill in each of the nine villages so thatthe villagers did not have to depend on external help andcould get back to their daily routine as early as possible.Majority of the childrenbrought from disaster-hit areahave taken up professionaleducation and have created afuture for them. Many childrenhave been supporting other re-lief and rehabilitation activi-ties, thus helping people getthe actual benefit of their ownexperiences…
  21. 21. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way22On one side, the BJS and its team was attending to thesurvivors, on the other, it was also necessary to attend tothose who were no more. Each one of the nine adoptedvillages had recorded a large number of deaths andcarcasses lying under the debris had to be removed anddisposed off at the earliest. Volunteers were allotted dutiesto identify, recover and cremate dead bodies fromrespective villages. Heavy rains and frequent power cutsadded difficulties to this highly necessary task. Cremationof dead bodies became more difficult due to scarcity ofenough wood to build the funeral pyre. The task wascompleted using wood from broken doors and windows ofcollapse buildings. Even in such difficult conditions, BJSvolunteers took the efforts to perform the final rites ofall the victims according to their respective religions.This helped in maintaining the dignity of the deceased,and at the same time, to avoid hearting sentiments of thesurvivors.News about the calamity had resulted in anoverwhelming response from innumerable socialorganisations from India and abroad who were rushing tothe site to provide relief. The most exceptional amongstthem was the BJS, thanks to its disciplined and well-planned assistance. During the relief operations, the mainfocus of the BJS volunteers was on the traumatisedchildren, who stood a chance of either losing an academicyear or getting completely detached from education. Even
  22. 22. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way23a short loss of time in this direction was going to provedisastrous for the future generation of the country. Hence,the BJS adopted a holistic approach and concentrated onprovision of quality education to the victimised children.Realising that the children were the worst affected amongthe earthquake victims, BJS founder and president,Shantilal Mutha decided to adopt these children for furthereducation and proper rehabilitation. This meant takingcare and bearing expenses of 1200 boys from the quake-affected districts of Latur and Osmanabad. Taking thesocio-cultural factor into consideration, the BJS decidedto adopt and rehabilitate only boys and not girls, thoughabout 300 of them were ready to move out with the BJSvolunteers.With requisite permissions from the stategovernment and the parents/guardians, BJS decided tobring the children to Pune for further education. A surveyconducted in consultation with Sharad Pawar, the thenchief minister of Maharashtra, helped identify childrenwho were ready to shift to Pune for educationalrehabilitation. After completion of initial formalities, agroup of 1000 such boys hailing from 29 villages of Laturand Osmanabad districts, left for Pune in 25 buses offeredby the MSRTC to ferry them from their hometown to Pune.Meanwhile, clearance was also obtained for starting aprimary school, a middle school and a junior college forthese children.
  23. 23. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way24On the auspicious occasion of Dassera, a convoy of25 buses ceremoniously left for Pimpri in Pune, after beingflagged off by Sharad Pawar, the then chief minister ofMaharashtra and P C Alexander, the governor of the state.Additional 400 children joined the team of 1000 boys whowere already screened and selected for the rehabilitationprogramme. As a temporary arrangement, accommodationwas provided for some children in Atmanagar complex,owned by Mutha associates. The spacious facility had 120rooms on the ground floor. Remaining students wereaccommodated by the Pimpri-Chinchwad MunicipalCorporation. Subsequently, a newly constructed four-storeyed school building in Sant Tukaram nagar was madeavailable for all the students. With the basementconverted in a mess, 25 rooms of the school were used asresidential quarters while the remaining served asclassrooms.Children had come from villages like Madaj,Maichakur, Kashti,Arni, Pethsanghvi, Holi, Ekondi, Udatpur,Taushigar, Kanegaon, Makni, Mangrul, Dendkal, Talni, Killari,and Limbala of Osmanabad and Latur districts. Fourteenteachers from the quake-affected areas also accompaniedin order to provide a sense of belonging. Some eldersfrom the villages also accompanied the students.Mere relocation and provision of requisite residential andeducational facilities was not enough. The children requiredmedical assistance for complete rehabilitation. Help arrived
  24. 24. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way25in the form of leading psychologists and behavioral scientistsSudhir Kothari, the late P G Vaidya, Pustraj Atre, VijayParulkar, Vasudev Parlikar, Mohan Agashe, Medha Dhawale,Bindu Patani and Jyoti Ronghe, who met the students anddiscussed with them to diagnose probable psychologicalproblems and interventions. Impressed BJS effort, DrMohan Agashe, head of psychiatric department at the B Jmedical college, Pune and director of the MaharashtraMansik Arogya Sanstha suggested that the children neededa change of place and education.Elaborate arrangements were made by members ofthe Jain Sanghatana at Atmanagar. Local students receivedand welcomed them with flowers at Atmanagar. Besides120 rooms furnished with beds, mattresses and householditems, the apartment also had a medical aid center, agrocery shop, a kitchen and dining room.A team of 25 volunteers worked during day andfive during night. Students studying in standard betweenfifth and tenth were retained while younger children weresent back following advice from the psychologists. Thestate government sanctioned a primary and secondaryschool along with a junior college for these students.Seventy of the 1421 children, were orphaned while someof them had lost one of their parents. Details about theirliving conditions and educational progress were collectedthrough a comprehensive survey conducted by the BJS.The school started functioning since October 26, 1993 with
  25. 25. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way26the permission of chiefminister Sharad Pawarwho had promised toconvert it into arecognised school. Healso had promised tomake available aboutseven acres of land forthe proposed schoolbuilding. Afterconducting classes inshops for about 15days, the PCMCprovided a hugebuilding for the schooland the hostel. Withintwo days, classesstarted with the helpof social workers in thearea while withinabout a month,teachers and otherstaff were alsorecruited.A unique project thusbegan with the BJSaccepting the challenge of providing education,Adjusting in a new place and adifferent atmosphere was not veryeasy for the children who werebrought down from Latur to Pune.The fear of the earthquake stillgripped their minds. For the firstten days, they could not sleep well.Some of them would burst outcrying, some of them felt likegoing back home while a few wouldsuddenly wake up in the midnightimagining that the earthquake hadstruck and the building wascollapsing. For many, living on theupper floors of the buildings wasnot acceptable since they fearedfurther destruction and hence, allthe children would leave theirrooms in the night to rush downto the ground floor and spend theentire night together. Rumoursabout a dam bursting and thoseof recurrence of the quake, addedto the problems being faced…
  26. 26. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way27accommodation, food and other requisite facilities to thestudents from Latur and Osmanabad. The responsibility ofproviding education from class five to the level ofgraduation was most challenging task ever undertaken inthe country as part of any rehabilitation programme aftera natural calamity.Positive results started showing soon as the studentsdisplayed improved psychological conditions after reachingPune. Though only 30 per cent of the students managed toclear the SSC examinations from the school establishedby BJS, in first such exam after the earthquake, they hadstarted developing interest in attending school besideshaving some hope and ambitions in their life. Meanwhile,After a lot of convincing, resident villagers of Latur clearlyunderstood and accepted the need to keep children away fromthe site of disaster and get them engaged in education to avoidnegative impact of the calamity. They however, were not readyto involve girls in the process. For them, as a convention, girlsdid not either go to school or even if they did, it was allowedonly within the vicinity of the village. The necessity of educationfor girls was out of question. Consequently, all girls from Laturand Osmanabad missed out on the opportunity to avail ofeducational facilities and come out of the tragic impact of thedisaster…
  27. 27. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way28i n c r e a s i n gnumber of localparents cameforward to seekadmission fortheir wards inthe BJS School.Within a shortperiod of threeto four monthsafter the quake,students studyingat the BJS Schoolb e c a m ee m o t i o n a l l ystable besidesdeveloping hopeand aims for thefuture.The first time these students went back to theirvillages was during Diwali and when they returned after avacation, the school was highly comforting for them. Theoverall attitude of these boys had drastically change afterwitnessing ruined homes, schools and fields, shatteredfamily members and after-shocks in the area. Under thecare and supervision of 26 trained and committed teachers,Streamlining and simplifyinggovernment procedures during suchcalamities can speed up both, relief andrehabilitation. Many NGOs, including BJS,faced difficulties when it came to ferryingrelief material from other parts of the stateto Latur and Osmanabad.In the first place, the railways andother transport agencies were not instructedto offer a concession in the freight chargesfor material being taken to Latur andOsmanabad for rescue, relief andrehabilitation. Secondly, a large amount ofsuch material was held up at variouslocations for octroi charges and othergovernment duties like sales tax, customduty, excise and service tax. A lot of timewas wasted in the process, thus delaying helpfrom reaching out to the needy...
  28. 28. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way29they found the Pune School to be much more rewarding.By the time it was a year after the earthquake, there wasa sea-change in the physical and emotional status of theaffected children. Acquiring knowledge and confidencethrough education at Pimpri School, the children derivedinspiration from the BJS work and expressed desire to dosocial work in their native places. They decided to planttrees and find remedies for the shortage of water in theirvillages.On October 1997, when some students completedfour years in Pimpri School, more children from Melghatand Jabalpur were added to the existing strength. Thiswas possible only with help from Sharad Pawar. Somechildren who were not showing any inclination of progress,were sent back home.The rehabilitation process took a giant leap whenland measuring ten acres was purchased at Wagholi in Pune-Ahmednagar road for construction of the proposed WagholiEducation & Rehabilitation Centre (WERC), which wasconceived to serve as a permanent solution to cater tothe needs of various disasters in Maharashtra. Followingrecommendation from the Government of Maharashtra,the World Bank extended infratrcutural assistance for theproject. Very soon, a large state-of-the-art, three lakhsquare feet building, along with requisite facilities likehostels, laboratories, classrooms and library wasconstructed by the Government of Maharashtra with the
  29. 29. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way30approval of the World Bank and then handed over to BJS.The WERC was formally inaugurated on November 29, 1998at the hands of the former chief minister of Maharashtra,Manohar Joshi. With a hostel big enough to accommodate1000 students, the WERC served as a new home for thechildren who started their education at the newly builtfacility, where they were given free education andhousing. Throughout their stay at WERC, the studentsavailed of education up to graduation level, lodging,boarding, medical facilities, holistic development,counseling as well as training in disaster management.After spending almost a decade at the WERC, majority ofthe beneficiaries from disaster-hit area have taken upprofessional education ensuring a bright future forthemselves and their families. Several of them have alsobeen supporting other relief and rehabilitation activities,thus helping people benefit from their own experiences.Managed professionally by a team of seasoned academiciansand specialists, the WERC have given children anopportunity and training to contribute to the society in ameaningful and constructive manner. For them, this wasnot just rehabilitation, it was like taking a rebirth.In the first place, the railways and other transportagencies were not instructed to offer a concession in thefreight charges for material being taken to Latur andOsmanabad for rescue, relief and rehabilitation. Secondly,a large amount of such material was held up at various
  30. 30. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way31locations for octroi charges and other government dutieslike sales tax, custom duty, excise and service tax. A lot oftime was wasted in the process, thus delaying help fromreaching out to the needy...
  31. 31. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way32Jabalpur Earthquake – 1997Residing on shaky groundsDespite difficulties, the BJS successfully completedrehabilitation project by educating the students till theygraduated and were settled in life…A powerful tremor rocked Jabalpur and its outskirts in thewee hours of May 22, 1997 which claimed more than 50lives and rendered more than 6000 people homeless. Thetremor originated from a place 20 km north-east of Jabalpurwith an intensity of 6.2 degrees on the Richter scale,lasting 52 seconds.While devastating damages were suffered bydistricts like Jabalpur, Mandla, Chhindwara and Seoni,Jabalpur and Mandla districts were the most hit.Chhindwara and Seoni districts emerged fortunate to havesuffered comparatively less destruction. The affect of theearthquake was felt in 2739 villages. Sixty-seven wards inJabalpur city and 1859 villages in Jabalpur district sustainedlosses due to the earthquake while Mandla district had289 affected villages. In Seoni district, the number ofvillages affected by the earthquake was reported to be569 while Chhindwada district had 22 affected villages.The quake also spread over a part of Madhya Pradesh, butthe major thrust was in Jabalpur. Panagar, Kundam andMajhouli villages of Jabalpur were badly affected. Loss ofproperty and cattle was roughly estimated to be around
  32. 32. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way3385 crore with 22 ‘badly damaged’ villages out of whicheight were totally destroyed. It was estimated that over25000 houses were destroyed in Jabalpur area. Besidesclaiming life, the quake also had its destructive impact onseveral buildings of historic value.As per official statistics, the number of deceasedwas less as compared to that of those who got injured inthe calamity. Only one of the 39 deaths in Jabalpur occurredin the rural area of Chhindwada while the remaining 38died in the city. A total of 2310 people were injured inJabalpur district while Mandla had 120, in Chhindwadahad four and Seoni had just one injured individual. Thedisaster was significant because it occurred very close tothe densely populated, urban conglomeration in a majorcity of India like Jabalpur which had a 1.2 million strongpopulation.Repair and reconstruction work needed to be doneon a war footing in Jabalpur in view of the ensuing rainyseason. Any further delay would have added to the woesof the residents in the form of added destruction and apossibility of an epidemic. The State government hadannounced an interim relief of Rs 3,000 to each affectedfamily to help them in putting up temporary sheds.Government agencies, along with the Army and severalNGOs including the Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana moved inwith relief activities. Providing first aid and medical
  33. 33. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way34The experience of working for disaster-victims in Latur andOsmanabad came handy while attending to the residents ofJabalpur. But, this time, since the state was different, theimplications also changed, calling for re-structuring the reliefand rehabilitation plan.BJS volunteers were now ready and did not need any training toconduct a survey to identify the most affected families, thenumber of children, their exact problems and finding solutionsto them. Just like Latur and Osmanabad, they went from houseto house collecting information about school going children; theyalso talked about the proposed plans to move the children fromJabalpur to Pune for educational rehabilitation.Shifting the children was not difficult because a proper facilitywas ready at the WERC. But since, the spoken language, themedium of instruction and the syllabus was different, educationalrehabilitation did not seem that easy. Hence, the BJS decidedto select only a handful of children instead of bringing down allquake affected students.A group of 40 to 50 students were shifted and were housed atthe WERC. Since their medium of instruction was Hindi, someHindi medium schools in the city were approached toaccommodate these children. A special bus was organised toferry them from the hostel to the school and back. Despite allthese difficulties, the BJS successfully completed therehabilitation project by educating the students till theygraduated and were settled in life. However, this experiencehighlighted the need to rehabilitate disaster affected childrenin their home towns as far as possible…
  34. 34. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way35treatment, besides supplying drugs, food and consolingthe sufferers was the immediate requirement.Keeping close liaison with the district authorities,BJS volunteers reached the affected area and set up rescuecamps. After an initial survey of actual damages in thevillages falling within the area, rescue and relief operationswere carried out on an urgent basis.Food, medical aid and materials for temporaryshelter were the essential items urgently required by thequake-affected villagers. The rains were likely tocomplicate the situation and hence, medical services inthe area needed to be strengthened. Though, long-termrehabilitation included provision of proper houses, watersupply, employment and developmental programmes, thelessons learned from the Latur-Osmanabad tragedy, helpedplan elaborately for Jabalpur.During the rescue and immediate relief activities,BJS realised that though the loss to human lives was veryless compared to the Latur earthquake, the Jabalpurearthquake had brought about extensive damage toproperties. Not less than 42 villages were completelydestroyed, leaving thousands of families without homes.A BJS team comprising Mahendra Surana, Dilip Gandhi,Prafulla Parakh and Madanlal Jain visited quake-affectedvillages like Bilehari, Tilehari, Gaur, Kudaria and NimKheda.
  35. 35. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way36The initial survey revealed that Mandla, Chhindwaraand Seoni villages in Jabalpur district had suffered majorlosses due to damages. While about 8546 houses hadcompletely collapsed the number of badly damaged houseswas around 52,690. In Kosamghat and Kudaria which werenear the epicenter region, more than 90 per cent of thehouses had collapsed or were badly damaged followingthe earthquake. Villages like Kosamghat and Kudaria wentthrough a maximum intensity of shaking experienced duringthe earthquake.Various non-governmental agencies sprung intoaction providing building material for temporary shedsand shelters in different villages since Governmentauthorities could not reach in time. This kind of workdone in the area helped build confidence amongst theaffected people. Food packets were distributed to thevillages for quite a number of days.Flying in to Jabalpur, immediately after theearthquake, chief minister, Digvijay Singh and the ministerin charge of district, Rajan Prasad Sukla, along with thechief secretary, took a surveyed of the situation. An ex-gratia payment of Rs one lakh each to all survivors of thedeceased and a sum of Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 each wasannounced for the injured. The next of kin of the 39deceased persons were given an ex-gratia payment of Rsone lakh as announced.
  36. 36. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way37As a temporary relief measure the Governmentprovided free bamboo poles for erecting temporary shedsin the affected areas. Relief in cash was also provided inamounts ranging between Rs 400 and Rs 3,000 for theaffected families to purchase utensils, clothing or to erecttemporary sheds and shelters. Soon after the earthquake,BJS volunteers reached the affected area to set up rescuecamps. Rescue and relief operations commenced on anurgent basis.It was soon realised that children were the worstsufferers. The psychological trauma they were facing waspotent enough to completely destroy their future.Immediate rehabilitation of these disaster-affectedchildren was necessary.Considering the condition of the earthquakeaffected children and their psychological trauma, BJSdecided to launch Education Rehabilitation Programme forthem. Equipped with the previous experience ofsuccessfully rehabilitating earthquake affected childrenfrom Latur, BJS confidently adopted the orphaned andaffected children of Jabalpur for provision of qualityeducation along with counseling to help them overcomethe psychological trauma they were facing after thedisaster.The visiting BJS team informed villagers about theproposed rehabilitation plans and offered full assistance.Villagers were also informed about the Education
  37. 37. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way38Rehabilitation Project for which the quake affectedchildren would be taken to Pune for better education.Meetings were held with the sarpanches and prominentpersons of the affected area to discuss with them theplan of adopting the earthquake-affected children foreducation. These plans were very well appreciated andfull cooperation was assured. The team also met PushprajSingh, minister of education, Madhya Pradesh and appraisedhim about the project.With the full support of the authorities and parents,BJS identified 44 promising children from the earthquake-affected villages of Jabalpur for the educationalrehabilitation project. The main focus was on studentswho were studying in standards between V and X. BJSshifted these children to Pune with the consent of theirparents and local authorities. These children reached Punealong with the BJS team on July 17, 1997 in a special busarranged for them. Besides providing accommodation inthe BJS hostel at Pimpri, all the necessary arrangementsincluding food, clothes, study materials and all otheraccessories were made n the hostel for them.Since the medium of instruction in Jabalpur wasHindi, it was necessary to make requisite facilities availablein Hindi. Hence, they were given admission in S M JoshiVidyalaya, a Hindi medium school in Pune. They werethen shifted to the Wagholi Education RehabilitationCenter (WERC), in November 1997.
  38. 38. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way39Though the project began with 40 students in theacademic year 1997-98, the number of children reducedto 19 in 1998-99, since many of the children returned backto their villages and did not return to continue theirstudies. The number further dropped to nine in thefollowing year and BJS had to discontinue the Jabalpurproject by the end of that academic year.
  39. 39. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way40Akola Floods – 2002Minimising adverse effectsBJS ensures timely, appropriate and effectivedelivery of relief, rescue and rehabilitation…Continuous rainfall which led to overflowing of Katepurnadam in Maharashtra’sAkola district, eventually caused floodsand water logging in the villages downstream.Floodwaters damaged homes and inundated roads, therebybringing normal life to a virtual standstill. Over 30 villageswere sounded alert following the overflowing of theKatepurna dam. Heavy downpour also burst theembankments of streams, forcing villagers to abandon theirhomes and move elsewhere.August 2002 recorded heavy monsoon and flash floodswhich hit the northern region of Maharashtra causing heavylosses to life and property. Akola was worst hit by floodswith about 15 villages badly affected. Though many peopledid not lose their lives, damage to property was veryhigh.As soon as the water level rose beyond the dangermark, the District Collectorate contacted BJS with anappeal for help. BJS sprung into action and a network ofvolunteer all over Maharashtra was activated immediately.A quick strategy for flood relief was formulated andvolunteers from various parts of the state rushed to the
  40. 40. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way41flood affected region for immediate rescue and reliefoperations.BJS volunteers utilised all the material available at handfor the rescue operations. Since the water level was veryhigh, many people were stranded on top of building roofsand on trees. BJS volunteers shifted them to safe placesin all the possible ways, many a times carrying victims ontheir shoulders.All necessary arrangements were made for provisionof food twice a day to approximately 7000 flood affectedpeople in the area. BJS also set up two relief camps fortemporary accommodation of the flood affected.Evacuated individuals from the flooded areas were takento these relief camps where BJS made all the necessaryarrangements for providing medical aid to the affectedpeople. About 10,000 people were provided with shelterand medical aid.The network BJS of volunteers for relief resources,proved helpful not only in reducing the negative impactof the disaster but special attention was also given toquick steps towards rehabilitation which resulted inavoiding increased trauma.Meanwhile, the disaster affected families hasnowhere to go and in search of shelter they occupied aschool building thus making it difficult for theadministration to continue with the academic schedule.
  41. 41. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way42To over come this problem, the BJS erected twotemporary shelters and named them Deepchand GardiNagar and Suresh Dada Jain Nagar. These two faciltiesserved as temporary shelters for families that had losttheir houses and at the same time, helped in getting theschool building vacated so that the students could go aheadwith their studies.The BJS’ capability to respond fast during emergiesand to find a quick solution have always been appreciatedfrom all quarters of the society.Akola district does not have a long history of damaging floodsand floods have been ranked at four in terms of past occurrencesand a low probability for future occurrence has been indicated.Flood prone area however accountws for more than 28 per centof the total area of the district.The district administration has designated large areas in all thetalukas - mainly those lowlying areas close to river/nala banks -as flood prone with Patur taluka having the largest area 57%,followed by Barsi Takli (48%), Akot (45%), Balapur (40%) etc.There has been only one episode of flooding in the last ten yearswhich affected a considerable portion of Akola town.
  42. 42. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way43Gujarat Earthquake – 2001Ensuring rehab through schoolsIn the history ofnatural calamities, theGujarat Earthquake2001 was the mostdevastating in India.Occurring at a distanceof 20 kilometers fromBhuj in Gujarat, it wasscaled at 7.6 on theRichter scale.It happened on January26 when the India’s 52ndRepublic Day celebration wasgoing on. Around 19,727 people were reported killed andmore than 166,000 thousand people were injured. Besidethese, the earthquake rendered 60,000 people homeless,with 348,000 houses destroyed and nearly 844,000 housesdamaged. Causing extensive damage to other resources,the earthquake also killed about 20,000 cattle.Northern provinces of Gujarat, which was theepicenter, were a scene of devastation. The city of Bhuj,where 150,000 people lived, was reduced to rubble withhardly a building left standing. About 7633 villages in 21 ofthe 25 districts of Gujarat were affected. Kuchchh,Surendranagar, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Patan and AhmedabadCalls for donation of requisite reliefmaterials evoked an overwhelmingresponse. A request made to theIndian Chamber of Commerceresulted in direct supply of food,water, clothing, milk powder andeven footwear. Truckloads of thesewere sent directly from Mumbai tothe affected areas….
  43. 43. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way44Some of the stories were highly tragicand unbelievable. In Bachchau forinstance, there was one house in whichall of its members had lost their livesas almost 90 per cent of the residencehad collapsed after the earthquake.Not wanting the dead bodies to be leftunattended till the arrival of relativesfrom other parts of the country andabroad, volunteers of NGOs workingin the area and other survivingvillagers performed the rites of thedeceased. About five days after thetragedy, about 25 of the relatives camedown from various parts of the countryand a couple of them also arrived fromabroad. Unfortunately, just as theserelatives had assembled in theundamaged part of the houses, thevillage was hit by aftershocks in whichthe remaining part of the housecollapsed, killing all the relatives whohad assembled to mourn the deaths ofthe original residents of the village.This was as if they had returned totheir native place, only to die…were the mostaffected districtshaving a directimpact on 30 per centof the state’spopulation.Geographically, theaffected areameasured more thanthat of Haryana andKerala together.Businesses wereruined; infrastructuretorn apart and basics e r v i c e sdiscontinued. OnJanuary 27, ShantilalMuttha, constitutedgroups of ten each ina meeting held at theWagholi EducationRehabilitation Center( W E R C ) . T h euniqueness of this activity was that one earthquake-affected person was helping another earthquake-affectedperson. The teams of volunteers also had students and
  44. 44. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way45teachers from the WERC. They were ready to go andparticipate in the relief work at Gujarat.Food, water, clothing, milk powder and even footwearwere collected through an appeal. Truckloads of theseitems were sent directly from Mumbai to the affectedareas. The WERC teams and volunteers from other areasreached Gujarat on the third day of the calamity, to setup camps at Samkhiyali and Bhachau.News about the devastating earthquake resulted in rescue teamsfrom all over the country and abroad rushing towards Gujaratwith all kinds of help. Only one of these teams was unique.It was different than others because some members of this rescueteam knew exactly what the feeling of a quake affected victimcould be. They knew what to say to the victims and what exactlyto do for them. They could do this because they had themselvesgone through a similar experience. These were the quakeaffected children from Latur and Osmanabad who had recoveredafter being a part of the rehabilitation project at the WagholiEarthquake Relief Centre in Pune.Having recovered from their personal traumatic experience,these rehabilitated children had gained enough confidence andwere ready to extend a helping hand to those who had landed ina situation which they had found themselves once.This act did not simply display the amount of concern thesechildren had for their fellow countrymen, but was also a clearproof of the impressive success of the unique educationalrehabilitation project conceived and implemented by the BJSthrough WERC in Pune…
  45. 45. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way46As per a Hindu custom, a period of13 days is observed as the ‘griefperiod’ after a tragedy like death inthe family. The 13thday signalsrestart of normal life after thetragedy. Coincidentally, a school re-constructed by BJS volunteers inSamkhiyali was inaugurated exactlyon the 13th day after the earthquake,conveying the need to get on withlife and forgetting the tragic past…The quake called for construction oftemporary structures to house 614primary and secondary schools with1468 classrooms to accommodate132,339 students. 31. All thesestructures were designed in a waywhich made them earthquake andcyclone resistant. This was donefollowing instructions from theWorld Bank which funded theproject…This was one ofthe two most deadlyearthquakes to strikeIndia in its recordedhistory. The districtsmost affected includedK u c h c h h ,S u r e n d r a n a g a r,Jamnagar, Rajkot,Patan and Ahmedabad.Kuchchh was cut-offfrom the rest of thestate and the countrydue to massive breakdown oftelecommunicationlinks. Altogether 147telephone exchanges inKuchchh, 25 in Rajkot,four in Jamnagar, andthree in Surendranagar were severely damaged while 11people lost their lives and 15 were injured. Matters weremade worse with power failure since 45 sub stations ofKuchchh were either totally destroyed or seriouslydamaged. This affected the supply to 255 feeders, resultingin blacking out nine towns and 925 villages.
  46. 46. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way47Simultaneously, ten towns of Kuchchh and eight of Rajkot,Jamnagar, Ahmedabad and Surendranagar, which wereadversely affected, faced serious disruption of watersupply.Health services were completely disrupted as a 281-bedded District Hospital and 16-bedded Mental Hospitalat Bhuj were completely destroyed along with 42 PrimaryHealth Centers, 227 sub-centers and 42 Community HealthCenters. All of them were reduced to rubble.Total disruption of 330 kilometre long railway tracksbetween Dharangadhra and Nalia, 210 kilometre long tracksbetween Palampur and Samkhiyali, and track along withthe Hapa and Okha lines made transportation to thesevillages impossible.Other indirect losses included increased operationalexpenditure in a given sector due to the destruction ofphysical infrastructure. Additional costs had to be incurredin providing transportation since the alternate routes werelonger than the normal routes. The impact also resulted inincreased cost of providing services, loss of corporateThe quake called for construction of temporary structures to house614 primary and secondary schools with 1468 classrooms toaccommodate 132,339 students. 31. All these structures weredesigned in a way which made them earthquake and cycloneresistant. This was to be done at the earliest to avoid academicloss to the students…
  47. 47. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way48income as a result of the inability to provide utilityservices, loss of personal income as result of total or partialloss of an individual’s means of livelihood, unexpectedexpenditures related to health and hygiene and loss ofproduction of industries that were destroyed and to otherassociates including suppliers and buyers.The most devastated town was Bhuj since it wasclose to the epicenter. Over a million structures weredamaged or destroyed, including many historic buildingsand tourist attractions. Considerable damage occurred alsoat Bhachau. Whereas, Ahmedabad, the commercial capitalof Gujarat and a city of 4.5 million, had as many as 50multistory buildings collapsed and several hundred peoplekilled. The quake destroyed 75 percent of Kutch.Based on his Latur experience, Shantilal Muttha decidedto go in for the immediate reconstruction and restorationof 50 schools in order to avoid educational loss for thechildren. He visited the damaged school at Samkhiyaliand ordered commencement of reconstruction the sameday. Dhanraj Chopra and Tejmal Gandhi headed thereconstruction team. Construction material and labour wasWithout considering the psychological impact on children, theGujarat government declared long holiday for schools after thedisaster. Little did they realise that a seven month gap wouldresult in the children losing interest in education and gettinginvolved in wrong practices…
  48. 48. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way49not available locally and everything had to be taken fromAhmedabad. While the school was under construction,Mutha organised village meetings and motivated thevillagers to send their children to school.In a symbolic move, the Samkhiyali Schoolconstructed by BJS volunteers, was inaugurated on the13th day after the earthquake. Suresh Dada Jain, formerminister of Maharashtra and trustee of BJS, whoinaugurated the school, was so impressed by the projectthat he declared help for 500 schools instead of theproposed 50.For the first 15 days, BJS volunteers cooked anddistributed food. Thereafter, ‘ration cards’ were issuedfor distribution of dry ration from the BJS camp.Meanwhile, the collectorate staff made extensive use ofBJS facilities such as communication, fax machines andcomputers.Simultaneously, teams of BJS volunteers gatheredinformation about damaged schools and took writtenconsent and undertaking from local authorities stating thatFrustration which followed the disaster and easy availability ofrelief material and monitory assistance resulted in increasedconsumption of alcoholic drinks in the quake affected area.Availability of financial aid for reconstruction of houses promptedthe local residents to accept this aid and use it for other purposewhile refusing help from NGOs which offered to reconstruct thehouses for the quake victims…
  49. 49. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way50they would run the schools after reconstruction. The surveyalso included the availability of the teachers, studentsand facilities. Based on the survey, 700 schools werechosen for reconstruction.Bhawarlal Jain, one of the trustees of BJS, prepareda standard design for the schools. The design was basedon a single storied prefabricated structure with a concreteplinth and a roof made of polycarbonate sheets. Within90 days, 368 such schools were constructed.Since many of the team members had gone throughthe agonizing experiences of the earthquake disaster oncein their life, their dedication and morale level was veryhigh. A dedicated team of more than 1000 BJS volunteersfrom Malkapur, Sillod, Aurangabad, Hinganghat, Nandedand Sangamner, alsoreached Gujarat towork in six month longrotation for the aid ofthe affected people.They worked inrotation for sic longmonths as reliefcenters were set up atvarious places withBhachau andSamkhiyali as twomajor centers.Relief and rehabilitation got delayedfor want of enough labour at the site.Local labourers were not availablesince many of them had migrated orwere disabled due to injuries.Surprisingly, many of them were notready to work because they had gotused to living off the relief materialsupplied by the government or theNGOs. BJS got some workers fromnearby areas like Morvi and Rajkot,but almost 60 per cent of them ranaway from site fearing another majorearthquake…
  50. 50. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way51BJS made arrangements to provide cooked food, clothesand medicines to 30,000 people on a daily basis.Arrangements were also made for cremation of deadbodies.After the preliminary surveys, BJS found twofunctional hospitals with 80 beds each, owned by DrChotubhai Ajmera of the Ajmera Group from Mumbai, inVaswad, a village near Rajkot. A group of medicalpractitioners, general surgeons, and orthopedic surgeonswas sent to Vaswad from Pune for provision of medicalaid.Armed with equipment and medicines, thesedoctors started work with great zeal. After five days ofexhausting work they returned to Pune and another batchof doctors from Jalgaon and Nanded left for Gujarat tocontinue the medical aid. BJS organised blood donationAtal Behari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India appreciatedthe efforts undertaken by BJS to reconstruct 368 schools withina short period of 90 days…After the devastating earthquake in 2001, which caused a hugedamage to life and property, every one though that Gujarat wouldnot be in a position to stand up, but the state proved them wrongand developed chemical and petro industries to becomepetrochemical hub in the country...-Narendra Modi, Gujarat chiefminister
  51. 51. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way52camps in Pune on January 30 and 31, 2001, in associationwith the Gujarat medical relief workers.After initial rescue and relief, BJS focus shifted torehabilitation activities with their main focus on children.BJS knew that educational rehabilitation is one of theways for these affected children to cope with the stressand trauma that they were facing in wake of the calamity.Any delay in reopening of the schools would have lead tothe children being exposed to the horrifying sights ofdebris and bodies lying around thus leaving a permanentscar on their minds.Additionally, since the children had become usedto running after the vehicles carrying relief material, theywere likely to lose self-esteem and independent thinking.Being away from schools would have made them lazy, andthere was a possibility of the free time being misused. Inaddition, they were likely to lose interest in studies anddropout from schools permanently.Discussions held with leading psychiatrists,educationalists, government officials and other eminentpersonalities led to a unanimous decision towards restartingeducation as a priority and to find a long-term solution tothe problem. Time was the main limiting factor and schoolshad to be built in an amazingly short period. As a policy,BJS decided not to shift the affected children from Gujaratto Pune because of the difference in syllabi, medium ofeducation and spoken languages. Additionally, Pune was
  52. 52. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way53considerably far from Bhuj, the number of affectedchildren was high and organising teachers to teach inGujarati would have been difficult.Through interactions and discussions with gramsabhas,villagers, teachers and students, it was conveyed thatchildren needed to be engaged in something positive ratherthan letting them witness dead bodies, destruction, plightand sorrow.The first school was raised out of the ruins, within 12days at Samkhiyali, near Bhachau. The response was clearlyvisible in the form of encouraging attendance, on thevery first day. Books and accessories were distributed inthe school, which was constructed in such a way that itwould last for five to 10 years. This school happened tobe the first school to have been constructed and becomeoperational in such a short period.Influenced by the work done by BJS, SureshdadaJain, set up the Jalgaon-Khandesh EarthquakeRehabilitation Trust (JKERT), for the Gujarat relief work.BJS and JKERT decided to work together and took up thechallenging task of rebuilding schools. Sureshdada Jainmobilised a fund of Rs 4-5 crore for this project fromJalgaon, through JKERT.A systematic and organised survey was conductedin Kuchchh and three districts of Saurashtra, viz Rajkot,Surendranagar and Jamnagar, covering 469 villages toidentify 275 villages to start the work on school
  53. 53. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way54reconstruction. A detailed, 600 page survey report helpedprepare a list of schools that were destroyed with detailsabout the type and degree of destruction, besides thenames and phone numbers of the principal and teachers,numbers of class rooms, numbers of teachers and studentsetc.This was followed by planning for building primaryand secondary schools. The total number of schools thatneeded rebuilding was 614, with a total of 1,468 roomsfor 132339 students.Well known Ahmedabad-based architect, B V Joshi,Keshav Desai from Pune and Shirish Barve from Jalgaonwere consulted on the specific design and use of materialGujarat has now emerged as the country’s first state tohave framed a Disaster Management Act and equipped localbodies with fire fighting equipment. The government iscreating awareness amongst school students who are beingimparted training in how to deal with emergency firemanagement. An institute has been set up in collaborationwith the Indira Gandhi National Open University to impartquality training in the fields of fire fighting and protection,crisis and disaster management, rescue, hazardous materialmanagement, incident command system and instructortraining. Established in affiliation with Fire ScienceAcademy, University of Newada, USA, the facility is Asia’sfirst training institute...
  54. 54. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way55for the schools to ensure that it was light weight, quakeand cyclone resistant. The proposed design incorporatedRCC plinth, aerocon sandwich panels for walls, pre-fabricated steel and polycarbonate corrugate sheets forthe roof.The cost was calculated, after deciding the material.Each room measuring 384 sq ft was estimated to cost Rs99840 while the total cost of Gujarat EducationalRehabilitation Project was calculated to be Rs 14 crore.Aerocon sandwich panels procured from HyderabadIndustries were made of two plain cement sheets on eithersides of lightweight concrete core material with tongue-and-groove joining system. They were considered to bemost ideal for internal and external applications, whichare easy to erect, light in weight, strong and durable,water and termite proof and when used for externalapplications would last 25 to 30 years. Though it wascostlier than normal building materials, BJS opted for itbecause compromise on quality of the material and welfareof the students was not acceptable. Polycarbonatecorrugated sheets manufactured by a Jalgaon-based firm,were diverted to Gujarat in large quantities after securingspecial permission from government.With the cooperation of local village heads,principals, teachers and parents, permission for the siteand erection of the school was obtained. Written no-objection certificates were also obtained stating that these
  55. 55. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way56temporary school structures would be returned to BJSwhen regular school buildings were constructed. BJSextended an invitation to the community to sponsorclassrooms. This evoked an overwhelming h response fromthe media and political parties also.Labourers were not available for the constructionwork since many of them had migrated or disabled andliving off the relief supplies offered by the governmentor NGOs. BJS had to send construction team from Puneand Mumbai while JKERT did the same from Jalgaon.Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, whowas also the vice chair-person of the National committeeon Natural Disasters, visited Bhachau and spent nearly fourhours with the BJS volunteers going over the plans forthe project. He was so impressed by the work done byBJS that he offered a donation of Rs 50 lakh for theeducation rehabilitation work.A formula called ‘formula 44’ was worked out, underwhich a team of 44 experts including civil engineers,electricians, supervisors, masons, carpenters and otherskilled personnel were sent to Gujarat with assistance fromthe Promoters and Builders Association of Pune. In a recordtime of 90 days, BJS constructed 368 schools on RCC plinthsusing aerocon sheets for walls and polycarbonate sheetsfor the roof. Thus, quality education was guaranteed to125,000 students who came back to school.
  56. 56. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way57Since Saturday was normal school day, majority of thestudents were at the schools when the earthquake struck.Many were buried under collapsed school buildings, Manypeople were also trapped in their houses and, because itwas the morning of Ramadan, most people were taking anap after their pre-dawn meal and did not have time to escapeduring the earthquake…These 368 schools were then handed over to thegovernment of Gujarat on June 3 and 4, 2001, at the handsof the then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee and thethen Home Minister, Lal Krishna Advani.This time, the experience of relief andrehabilitation work equipped the BJS with the knowledgeand expertise of constructing temporary, but quakeresistant structures for schools which could be completedin a very short time in order to prevent academic loss forchildren and thus ensure proper and fast rehabilitation ofthe future generation.
  57. 57. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way58Tamil Nadu Tsunami – 2004Rebuilding lives after tsunamiTheir world turned upside down in the great IndianOcean Tsunami. Years later, the fishing communities ofsoutheast India are still struggling to rebuild their lives...The waves destroyed almost everything that came in theirway. Public and private property got extensively damaged.Most of the houses were destroyed beyond repairs whilea large number of families were rendered homelesswithout any shelter and a lot of people died.A massive earthquake with its epicenter close toSumatra island of Indonesia, resulted in a the Tsunamidisaster which struck the states along the Indian OceanDecember 26, 2004. Within hours the killer Tsunami wavesthrashed into the shoreline of 12 countries including India,Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives,Myanmar, Bangladesh, Andaman & Nicobar islands,Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya taking the life ofmore than 229,850 people.The disastrous Tsunami, which hit the east coast of India,brought about a huge amount of damage to life, propertyand environment. Extensive damage was caused inAndaman & Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, TamilNadu and Pondichery.Everybody was taken by surprise,even before onecould understand what is happening when the second and
  58. 58. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way59most devastatingwave hit the coast atabout 8.45 am, thelast wave hit at about9.15 am.Although thisarea had seen manycyclones but nobodyhad much idea aboutTsunami waves. Thiswas the largest Tsunami so far in the region that hardlyexperienced even minor Tsunamis earlier.The Tsunami uprooted routine lives and left a trailof profound human tragedy. The disaster imposed a hugeburden on the community, not only in physical terms butalso in the psychological trauma experienced. The Tsunamidevastated coastal communities, killing thousands ofpeople, the majority being fisher folk. In addition, thewaves destroyed houses, boats, fishing equipment,agricultural land and salt pans, thereby wiping out manythousands of livelihoods.Local Jain people who were associated with theBJS were one of the few people to start relief andrehabilitation from the first day after the Tsunami disaster.BJS rushed to the coast of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherrywithin hours of the Tsunami. Six camps were establishedto provide relief and rehabilitation material including food,Earthquakes below the seawater areone of the root causes of the Tsuna-mis. They create waves (Tsunami) inthe seawater, which then travel to thecoastlines. A Tsunami carries consid-erable energy or has a momentum asit arrives at a shoreline, which is haz-ardous to the properties and popula-tion...
  59. 59. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way60shelter and medicine to the people of more than fiftyvillages.BJS also tried to get the permission from TamilNadu administration to establish one EducationalRehabilitation Centre in order to provide educationalrehabilitation for the Tsunami-affected children. Howeverthe Tamil Nadu government refused to accept anyassistance in this regard since they had their own plans toconduct this activity independently. Consequently, the BJSfocussed their attention towardsAndaman & Nicobar Islands.
  60. 60. Speech of Shri. Atal Bihari Vajpayeeon the occasion of handing over 368schools constructed by Bharatiya JainSanghatana in the earthquake strickenof Gujarat in 2001. “I would like tocongratulate Bharatiya JainSanghatana on this occasion. In thissituation after the massiveearthquake, they have organized allrequired resources and have done anexcellent job only with a view toprovide social service. They haveconstructed 368 schools and handedthem over to the people. You can nowsee these schools coming up but stillthere is a lot of work to be done. I amsure that you will continue with thisjob with the same dedication. Pleaseaccept my best wishes and manythanks for this accomplishment.”Word of praise for Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana byShri. Atal Bihari VajpayeeBJS’ work in the words of the former prime minister of India,Atal Behari Vajpayee
  61. 61. STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF HOMEAFFAIRS(EXCERPTS)(i) Re: Relief and rehabilitation in the aftermath of Jammu andKashmir earthquakeThe Non Governmental Organization have also rendered supportin providing shelter to the earthquake affected persons of J&K.Bhartiya Jain Sangathan (BJS) has donated 870 prefabricatedstructures which are to be erected in the earthquake affectedareas of J&K, particularly in Uri and Tangdhar. The firstconsignment of 245 pre-fabricated structures was delivered tothe State Government of Jammu on 12th November, 2005 and hasalready been transported by the State Government to Tangdhar.The second consignment of 277 pre fabricated strictures wasdelivered at Jammu on 21-11-2005 and the third consignment ofthe remaining 348 pre fabricated structures will be dispatched tothe State Government by 30th November 2005. These pre-fabricated structures will be erected at four locations in Tangdharand one location in Uri where households were required to berelocated because of their vulnerability to landslides/avalanches.Parliament discusses activities of BJS in LOK SABHALOK SABHASYNOPSIS of DEBATESMonday, November 28, 2005 / Agrahayana 7, 1927 (Saka)(Proceedings other than Questions & Answers)REFERENCE BY SPEAKERThe contribution of BJS was also recognised bythe Indian parliament
  62. 62. The memorandum of understanding singed betweenBJS and the A&N administration
  63. 63. Sonia Gandhi seeing off 500 quake-affected children from J&KShantilal Muttha and Prafulla Parakhinspecting the site of disaster
  64. 64. Quake-affected children from J&K being welcomedat the Wagholi Educational Rehabilitation Centre
  65. 65. Meeting with the J&K administration, preparations forrehabilitation and completion of the school building
  66. 66. Prafulla Parakh spearheaded the entire rehabilitation projectat Andaman & Nicobar
  67. 67. Former prime minister Chandra Shekhar visitedthe earthquake relief camp at Latur
  68. 68. Earthqiake affected children from Latur were broughtto the Wagoli Educational Rehabilitation Centre
  69. 69. Shantilal Muttha handing over 368 schools rebuilt by BJSand in discussions with eminent personalities
  70. 70. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way61Jammu & Kashmir Earthquake 2005A ray of hope for less fortunate livesT h erising sun arrived withwidespread destructionon October 8, 2005,when a 7.6 Richterearthquake struck theKashmir region of boththe countries. An areaof 30,000 squarekilometers coveringPakistan’s Azad Jammuand Kashmir (AJK), and North-West Frontier Provinces(NWFP), along with India’s western and southern Kashmirwere badly hit by destruction. It did not end here, as theinitial shock was followed by more than 978 aftershockswhich kept occurring in the region till October 27, 2005.The devastating earthquake that rocked Jammu & Kashmiron the October 8, 2005 caused severe damage to the livesand belongings of thousands of families on both sides ofthe Line of Control. The districts of Poonch, Baramulla,Jammu, Udhampur, Ramban Kathua, Srinagar, Budgam,Anantnag, Pulwama and Kupwara were the worst affected.In many areas, power went out while people also lackedDisasters, irrespective oflocations, generally have acommon devastating impact.But every disaster cannothave a common solution. Ithas to be location specific,especially when it comes torehabilitation of thevictims.
  71. 71. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way62adequate food orwater. The danger ofdisease spreading,including measles,increased dramatically.Distributing reliefsupplies to the victimsbecame especiallyurgent as the victims,living at high altitudeand with theapproachingwinter, faced the risk of exposure to One of the mostdevastating earthquakes in the recent history of Indiansub-continent, this one resulted in more than 80,000fatalities, besides 200,000 people being injured and morethan four million rendered homeless. Almost all thebuildings which were close to the epicenter had collapsed.So destructing was the quake that nearly 25 per cent ofthe buildings within 25 km of area surrounding the epicenterhad completely collapsed while 50 per cent of themsustained severe damages. Making matters worse,casualties were likely to increase considering that winterwas about to set in. Hence, provision of shelters to thevictims was of prime importance. NVC Menon, vicepresident, of the National Disaster Management AuthorityNatural disasters strike without theconsideration for any boundaries.Social work too, should never be re-stricted by bounaries and the BJShadalreadyreachedoutbeyondsuchphysicaql barriers. The earthquakewhich occurred in Jammu & Kash-mir, gave BJS a cfhance to reach outto disaster affected people resid-ing along the country’s borders…
  72. 72. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way63(NDMA) personally requested Shantilal Muttha for help.Muttha assured every possible assistance.The highly successful solutionof educational rehabilitation ofthe children from quake-affected families in Latur andOsmanabad could not be copiedin Gujarat because of area-specific problems like differencein spoken language, medium ofinstruction and the syllabus.However, the lesson learned in Gujarat and the futuristicview accepted by the Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS)provide useful during one of the deadliest earthquake thatstruck both, India and Pakistan in 2005.Fortunately, 870 of the 1004 prefabricatedclassrooms constructed by BJS after the Gujarat Earthquakewere lying vacant since the students had moved out ofthe temporary structures to permanent ones. In a futuristicmove, an informal agreement was arrived at stating thatthe BJS would be free to reuse these prefabricatedclassrooms once permanent classrooms were ready. Thisfuturistic planning came handy when the BJS was requestedto take up the task of providing shelters to house thequake affected in Jammu and Kashmir.Before the process could begin, a team of expertsincluding executive engineer, Zafer Iqbal Pampori, visitedMost of the affectedpeople lived inmountainous regionswith access impeded bylandslides that blockedthe roads, leaving alarge number of peoplehomeless…
  73. 73. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way64Roads buried in rubble hampered relief efforts in many remotevillages and many affected areas remained inaccessible. Rescuerslacked the heavy equipment, needed to clear the roads and torescue survivors buried under the earthquake wreckage. Manyrescuers picked the rubble with pickaxes and their bare hands,looking for survivors…Gujarat to inspect these structures. A report submitted bythe expert team confirmed that these structures couldnot only be transported and re-erected at the site butthey also were totally temperature proof. Based on thetechnical feasibility of the report an MOU was signedthrough which BJS agreed to provide structures to J&Kwithout charging for them. A 30-member BJS team ensuredproper erection of these shelters at the requisite sitesand locations.Immediate dismantling of the 870 vacant classroomscommenced, with a team led by Ashok Pawar supervising,dismantling and dispatching these shelters. The materialwas coded, dismantled, transported from Gandhidham toJammu and then further trucked to various locations. Allthe material reached Jammu in three trains and erectionof the prefabricated structures began under the supervisionof a technical team from BJS in order to protect the victimsfrom freezing temperatures. Re-erection of thesestructures in the affected areas of J&K was wellappreciated and expected to bridge the immediate gap
  74. 74. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way65for rehabilitation and protecting the people from extremeweather conditions.Systematic planning, consideration for minutedetails, proper execution of these plans and extra caretaken at every step helped BJS in making a full-proof planfor the relief and rehabilitation of the quake victims inJammu and Kashmir. Timely execution of the rehabilitationplan was a unique record in its own way. This was madepossible by the detailed and meticulous planning that wasdone taking into consideration every problem that waslikely to emerge in the course of execution,Provision of assistance in rescue, relief and rehabilitationduring disasters like earthquakes and floods is of utmostimportance. However, without proper planning, suchassistance may not reach the needy and hence is likely togo waste.Considering this, the BJS has always adhered tometiculous planning and proper implementation of everyproposed programme. A memorandum of understandingsigned between the BJS and the National DisasterManagement Authority (NDMA) is an example of how everyminute detail wastaken intoconsiderationeven beforeactual work couldbegin on the site.Since rivers, the main source of water, hadbeen polluted by corpses and animalcarcasses, provision of purified drikingwater was one of the major requirementsin the quake affected areas...
  75. 75. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way66In order to protect the quake-affected families fromfreezing temperatures, the NDMA had realised the urgentneed for arranging temporary housing shelters for them.BJS came forth with a proposal to extend support in thishumanitarian project. Having constructed 368 semipermanent pre-fabricated structures for schools after theGujarat earthquake in 2001, the BJS was ready not justwith the experience of executing the task, but also withthe requisite material.The BJS proposal was readily accepted because ithad the requisite material ready at hand and hence, thiscould help avoid the possible delay in procuring suchmaterial and then starting the work on construction oftemporary shelters. Since many schools were re-constructed by the government in Gujarat, nearly half ofthe temporary structures had been vacated. The taskrequired simple dismantling of these unused structures,their transportation to J&K and erecting them in theaffected areas.To demonstrate its capability and to obtain aclearance from the authorities, the BJS invited a team ofexperts to see, inspect the structure and give their consentfor the proposed programme. Accordingly, a team ofexperts from J&K led by executive engineer Zafer IqbalPampori, visited Gujarat for inspecting these structureson the site.
  76. 76. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way67A post-visit report submitted by this team did notonly confirm that these structures could be transportedand re-erected in J&K, but also stated that they weretotally temperature proof and fully capable of withstandingthe extreme low temperatures and chilly weatherconditions in J&K. The MOU was signed on the basis ofthe technical feasibility of this report, which was alsopresented to the Union Home Minister. It was decidedthat the material will be coded, dismantled, transportedfrom Gandhidham to Jammu and then further trucked tovarious locations.The J&K Government had taken the responsibilityof preparing the necessary foundations for the structureswhich were to re-erected suitably with assistance fromthe BJS. This MOU thus resulted in erection of about 870rooms to accommodate quake affected families and toprotect them from freezing winter temperatures and aslong as they a provided with permanently rehabilitation.Despite the desire to address the needs of the communitiesdevastated by the earthquake, the response of NGOs wasextremely limited due to the climatic conditions and thedevastation. The violence and conflict in this areapermitted very few grassroots organisations operatingthere, and BJS was one of them.However, the task of rehabilitation, undertaken bythe BJS did not end with provision of temporary structuresfor housing the earthquake hit families of Jammu and
  77. 77. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way68Kashmir. The BJS has always moved deftly to answer thecall of the child in need in many natural and man-madedisasters. The area in which, BJS had successfullydeveloped expertise in, did not go unnoticed.Gulamnabi Azad, the chief minister of Jammu andKashmir, called upon the BJS to accept the responsibilityof educational rehabilitation of students from the quake-affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Accordingly, theBJS agreed to take the responsibility of 500 students.By then, BJS was equipped with the tried and testedprogramme of educational rehabilitation of students fromLatur and Osmanabad. In addition, a permanent facilitywas readily available in the form of the WagholiEducational Rehabilitation Centre. All this was enhancedby a well trained and experience team of staff as well asvolunteers associated with the programme. Anotherimportant strength was the students from Latur andOsmanabad itself, who had benefited from the educationalrehabilitation programme.In case of Jabalpur, the BJS had already faceddifficulties in rehabilitating the students because theirlanguage, medium of instruction and syllabus was differentthan that of Maharashtra. Hence, this attempt was notrepeated in Gujarat. Secondly, the number of affectedstudents in Gujarat was to high to be taken to WERC inPune. Hence, they were rehabilitated in their hometowns
  78. 78. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way69through provision oftemporary structures tohouse the schools.The case ofJammu and Kashmirwas not different.However, it was alsoclearly visible thatrebuilding thedemolished schoolstructures would take along time and the worsening weather conditions wouldnot have allowed the children to travel distances to attendschools in temporary structures.This was followed by a major policy decision madeby the BJS. Realising that there was no alternate optionavailable, the BJS decided to move the students to Pune,without making any other changes in their educationsystem. This did only mean allowing them to be registeredwith their own school and teaching them their existingsyllabus in their preferred medium of instruction, but alsocalled for taking some of the teachers from Jammu andKashmir to Pune. The schools, the books, the syllabi, theteachers and the medium of instruction, all remained thesame. The only change was the location, which was no-doubt far away from their home town, but wascomparatively much safer and less traumatic.Not everyone has the privilege toaim for the moon when the strugglefor survival overshadows everythingelse. When it’s a fight for food andshelter, a safe future matters morethan a successful one. And this iswhere the BJS has always steppedforward, for over two decades, theorganisation has been playing astellar role in the lives ofunfortunate children...
  79. 79. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way70The local authorities then conducted a survey toidentify students and obtain consent from their parentsfor the proposed educational rehabilitation. By the timethis process could be completed, the number of studentswent up from the proposed 300 to 500.Finally, in December 2005, a fleet of buses carrying studentswas flagged off from Srinagar by Sonia Gandhi in thepresence of GulamnabiAzad. These students then travelledfrom Jammu to Pune in a special train to Pune where theywere extended a hearty welcome.As per the proposed programme, students studyingat the WERC were to return to Jammu for their annualexaminations and also stay back for summer holidays whichwould follow the examinations. However, the quarterlyand the half-yearly examination were conducted by atthe WERC itself with the help of teachers from J&K andthe staff at WERC.Beside basic requirements of lodging and boardingfacilities, the BJS had agreed to provide the studentsand teachers from J&K with facilities for health careincluding provision of a hospital and service of doctors.Though the classes were conducted at the already existingeducational facilities at the WERC, students from J&Kwere taught separately and were not forced to studywith other students. Separate classrooms were madeavailable for these students where teachers from J&Kcontinued teaching them their ongoing syllabus. Eventhe time-table were prepared with teachers from J&Kin order to ensure that their syllabus gets covered in
  80. 80. Dealing with Disasters – The BJS Way71their respective time schedule. Provisions were also madefor co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for thechildren.Besides classes for moral and value education, thestudents also availed of counselling facilities providedat the centre. The BJS made proper arrangements totake care of their psychological needs and requisitetreatment of the students. Familiarised with theMaharashtrian culture, the students were also encouragedto mix up with local students studying at the WERC as away of promoting healthy cultural exchange andexperience.Simultaneously, the students were also encouragedto support other relief and rehabilitation activities, thushelping other victims to benefit from their experiences.However, six months later, when the studentsreturned to their homes for a vacation, their parentsmoved the court challenging the adoption process. Theywere not ready to accept that their children were beingtaken away from them and kept far away in Maharashtra.Following a High Court decision, the BJS had todiscontinue the rehabilitation process and the childrennever returned.Nevertheless, the serious effort made towardseducational rehabilitation of the future generation wasappreciated by the children who kept writing letters tothe students being rehabilitated at the WERC in Pune.