Handling Calamities

Managing the Worst

I cannot stand to see people in distress. My entire being gets restless if such is the situation. My special assignments to deal with emergencies and calamities in Gujarat had become quite frequent. In hindsight, I feel satisfied that we were able to salvage most of them to the best of our abilities. सो सब तव प्रताप रघुराई।

To mention a few:

December 1992: Communal Riots in Surat City

Communal riots had broken out in Surat, Gujarat in 1992. I was working then as Additional Registrar of co-operatives. One fine morning, I was asked to proceed to Surat and help control the situation. I worked there for more than a month.

June 1997: Floods in Mehsana District

I was then working as DM, Kheda District which was reeling under severe floods. However, during the same time, the floods in Mehsana District became much worse. The then DM of Mehsana was on leave. A few months prior, I had worked as DM, Mehsana. So, Government sent me back to Mehsana, where I worked in flood relief.

June 1997: Floods in Kheda District

Kheda District was also faced with floods. I was DM of this District. I personally led and carried out a few rescue operations which were necessary but extremely risky. We waded into deep and turbulent waters on a boat to rescue stranded people. A large number of such people were successfully rescued with the help of army, boatmen and local teams. Government appreciated this work on record too.

October 1997: District Division

With effect from 2nd October 1997, Kheda district was divided into two with the southern part becoming Anand District . Also, the historic headquarter of Kheda district was moved to another town, Nadiyad. As DM of Kheda District, I set up the twin headquarters and made the transition smooth despite substantial resistance and substantial rioting against both decisions. Finally, both measures were implemented as desired by the Government. Thereafter, on my own request, I was moved to Anand District as DM.

August 1998: Floods in Surat City

During the spate of floods from river Tapi in the Surat region, I was again sent to Surat. Taking lessons from the plague which had befallen Surat in September 1994, the Government was very careful and proactive this time in 1998.

February 1999: Resettlement & Rehabilitation of Project Affected persons

The progress of Narmada Dam was stuck since several years. There were multiple issues including Resettlement & Rehabilitation of the Project Affected Persons who were mostly tribal and living on the banks of river Narmada. This was leading to severe cost & time overrun. Moreover, it also prevented the water reaching arid & thirsty areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan in addition to loss of electricity for the States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. There was also severe agitation and litigation by NGOs. 

Supreme court appointed a Grievance Redressal Authority headed by a retired Chief Justice of High Court. I was deputed to work with the Authority specially for solving the grievances of the affected persons. Due to this work, Supreme court finally granted clearance for further construction of the Dam in October 2000.

January 2001: Earthquake Relief

It was the worst earthquake in several centuries which struck Gujarat on 26th January 2001. Lakhs of houses and public and private buildings and structures had collapsed. Thousands of lives were lost. Lakhs of people were injured and many of them incapacitated. The plight of those orphaned and widowed was extremely painful. Damage to property was severe and even worse was the loss of livelihood. From the Narmada Authority, I was deputed to one of the worst earthquakes affected areas (Rapar Taluka of Kutch District). I lived there for around three months. Thereafter also, I remained involved in the rehabilitation work for more than a year.

विवादे विषादे प्रमादे प्रवासे, जले चानले पर्वते शत्रुमध्ये ।
अरण्ये शरण्ये सदा मां प्रपाहि, गतिस्त्वं गतिस्त्वं त्वमेका भवानी ॥
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