New Delhi, Dec 6 (PTI) The Army has instructed its ground operatives working during disasters to go to the media directly whenever there is need, as such occasions lead to an information vacuum that need to be plugged, Defence Ministry spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said on Thursday.
Speaking at a conference on 'Media and Disaster', Anand said that in recent floods in Kerala the ground operatives were allowed to interact with media without prior permission of the higher ups.
In case of a disaster, there is an information vacuum and nobody provides information to the media and the leaked information starts taking round, he said.
"There is a need to fill this vacuum. During Kerala Floods, the Army had instructed its ground operatives that they needed no permission to interact with media.
"During tragedies now, we have taken this decision that ground operatives may go directly to media whenever it is required," Anand said.
The conference hosted by Special Centre for Disaster Management (JNU), National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) and, Disaster Management Initiatives and Convergence Society (DMICS) was addressed by experts from different fields including media.
Training of reporters covering disasters and natural calamities and role of social media in such happenings was emphasised by K G Suresh, director general of Indian Institute of Mass Communication.
Citing example of Nepal earthquake where Indian media faced backlash of the locals over its coverage of the tragedy, Suresh underlined significance of respecting sensibilities of the affected people.
JNU registrar Pramod Kumar said knowledge and information were saviours during disasters. Media played a crucial role in exchange of information based on the knowledge provided by experts on different aspects of disasters, he said.
Senior journalist Laxmi Prasad Pant underscored challenges before journalists by citing the Kedarnath tragedy that struck nine years after he had "predicted" it in 2004 and claimed he faced a police case as well as opposition from different quarters over his report. PTI VIT RCJ