Rising to the ChallengeThis special cover story on disaster management features a rescue
operation, a rehabilitation project, crisis management at a family
event, and PMI's Project Management Methodology for Post Disaster
ReconstructionBY PANCHALEE THAKURSun-baked, parched farmlands in Maharashtra and Telangana, inundated
streets of Chennai and Srinagar, and houses reduced to a rubble in many
parts of neighboring Nepal are some visuals from 2015 that will remain
in the minds of Indians as powerful reminders of the vulnerability of
human beings in the face of natural disasters. According to the United
Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, in 2015, India recorded 19
natural disasters and was the third most disaster hit country. With
climate change experts forecasting a higher incidence of disasters in
the years ahead, governments and aid organizations face the daunting
task of carrying out frequent rescue, relief, and rehabilitation work.
However, often these efforts make poor utilization of resources and
result in a shoddy outcome because of non-standardized procedures while
responding to a crisis, poor execution of rescue and relief operations,
and insufficient monitoring of rehabilitation projects.
Manage India speaks to the Indian Army and Indian Air Force to
understand the procedures that the Indian armed forces followed in
Operation Maitri, the rescue and relief mission it launched after the
Nepal earthquake in April 2015 that won India praise and admiration for
quick and effective response. We focus on a rehabilitation project
launched by PMI Chennai Chapter after the devastating floods in Tamil
Nadu in December 2015. Also featured is the crisis management by a
senior project practitioner for his daughter's wedding during the
Chennai floods.Neighbor Reaches Out in Times of NeedWithin 15 minutes of a powerful earthquake hitting Nepal close to noon
on 25 April, the Indian armed forces, along with the National Disaster
Response Force (NDRF), had set in motion a rescue and relief mission to
the neighboring country. By that afternoon, 10 NDRF teams comprising 450
personnel had reached Nepal. By midnight, the Army had deployed a
senior officer to Kathmandu to coordinate the efforts.
The Indian Army deployed 400 personnel, 18 medical teams, and five teams
from the engineer task force. The IAF provided about 90 personnel for
the sorties and 30 for medical assistance. The Indian Army's Everest
expedition team, which was at the Everest base camp when the earthquake
struck, rescued a number of mountaineers who were struck by an avalanche
that was triggered by the quake.The Difficulties Awaiting Rescue Teams
PMI Chennai Chapter Shows the WayIn the true spirit of volunteering and community service, PMI India
Chennai Chapter (PMICC) identified three schools that had suffered
significant damage during the December flood for rehabilitation, of
which work has been completed in two schools. The beneficiaries are
Ashok Nagar Girls Higher Secondary School and the Chennai High School in
Kotturpuram. Work in the third school, the Chennai High School in
Teynampet, is currently underway.
Prasannaa Sampathkumar, secretary, PMICC, said, "Soon after the flood,
our members approached schools in the most impacted Chennai and
Cuddalore districts in order to evaluate the damage and identify
immediate requirements. We finalized on the Ashok Nagar Girls Higher
Secondary School as our first project as part of PMICC Chennai Flood
Rehabilitation Program." The other two schools were taken up in the
The Ashok Nagar school has 100 classrooms and a total strength of over
3,500 students. Several of its classrooms were under 6-8 feet of water
during the flood, leading to damage to the floors, furniture, books,
stationary, and electrical fittings.
Once the school produced its list of requirements, chapter volunteers,
led by Sriram Raghavan, vice-president, certification, conducted an
independent assessment and verified the requirements on 12 December. The
school immediately needed repair or replacement of black boards, light
fittings and ceiling fans, painting of classroom furniture, other
carpentry work, and a new water filter plant.
On 18 December, the team finalized the scope of immediate requirements
as blackboard painting, painting of classroom furniture, and the fixing
of lights and other electrical fittings in five classrooms. The team
crashed the project schedule and completed the work during the one-week
school holiday during Christmas and New Year. Chapter volunteers Koushik
Srinivasan, Syed Razik, and R.N. Pradeepkumar, along with Mr. Raghavan,
took care of the coordination among the school, chapter, and vendors
identified for the works.
For Chennai High School, Kotturpuram, the chapter has helped with audio
headsets for the computer lab, lights fixtures, steel storage units, and
ground restoration. The chapter board is now assessing the requirements
for the Teynampet school. Funds for the projects have come from
collections from chapter members and corporates. The chapter has so far
received Rs. 1.75 lakh, following a call for support that the chapter
board had made during a special session on 26 December.
The chapter has also committed to supporting the Ashok Nagar school for
some of its long-term requirements such as dustfree boards, tube lights,
desks, chairs and notice board.
Chapter president, P. Ramasubramaniam, said, "We want to create
long-term value through education related projects. It aligns best with
the chapter's and PMI's overall vision. We are now identifying future
projects to bring into this scope."
Crisis Management at an Indian WeddingA daughter's wedding is a big day in one's life, and for our daughter's
wedding, my wife, Subhashini Rao and I decided to put in our best
efforts in its planning. As a certified Project Management Professional
(PMP)®, I decided to follow all copybook processes of project
management in the wedding planning. This included a Work Breakdown
Structure, scheduling, resource planning, risk management, and
procurement. Our project management was put to the test when we faced
the unplanned risk of heavy rains inundating Chennai.
When Chennai came to a grinding halt after heavy rains in the first week
of December, many weddings were postponed. But with careful planning,
we managed to pull off our daughter's wedding on 6-7 December.
We had put in place a good plan for the transportation and accommodation
of guests. We didn't leave out any rituals or ceremonies. We also
managed satisfactory service for most services including decoration of
the venue, beautician for the bride, and food quality.
The principal prerequisite in managing such projects is meticulous
planning. Planning need not be done by anticipating a crisis. Instead,
practice project planning in a routine course more rigorously. The
change management component of crisis management would be more informal
here as the time for decisionmaking and implementation period are short.
It is also critical to maintain flexibility and agility in handling a
project in a crisis situation. Another critical factor that helped us
pull through the wedding was collaboration between the bride's and
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