AIR spotlight summary on “India’s Efforts to Reduce Disaster Risks”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Management. This is the first major inter-governmental invent after the adoption of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Prime Minister came up with the 10 point agenda for the people and he said that the disaster risk reduction has a pivotal role in supporting adaptation to climate change as well as sustainable development.
- Disaster by itself is something which affects the normal routine and it is not easy to comeback to. The risk is reduced by various disaster management systems. It could be by preventing disaster or by preparing for disasters, building up the capacity of the people to face disaster so that the damage caused by the disaster is minimal.
- Over the last 20 years more than 850000 people have died from disaster in Asia-Pacific. 7 of the top 10 countries in terms of numbers of death due to disasters are in the Asia-Pacific.
- In the disasters like cyclone, tsunami, earthquakes or floods the losses that were there 50 to 60 years earlier are now reduced although the magnitude of the disaster may be more. There are efforts in terms of management aspect of disasters.
- Earlier it was only disaster relief or responding to disasters. Now we are talking about disaster risk reduction. It is a sea change in our thought and approach to it.
- In any disaster management system the warning system plays a very crucial role along with technology to inform the last point. The government is using the social media and mobile technology to inform people about the risks involved in case of occurrence of any disaster.
India’s Preparedness to Disaster Management
- Today disaster management is a well planned integrated system. There are developments world over, and India has put in place the National Disaster Management Authority with Disaster Management Act, 2005. There are State Disasters Management Authorities in almost all the states. There are lot of efforts to take it down to community level, panchayat level and other grass root levels. Lot of work needs to be done, people need to be integrated, resources have to be integrated and managed.
- India has fully functional Indian Ocean Tsunami warning system, far more prepared to tackle heavy cyclones with minimal destruction and minimal damage to property and lives have been saved.
- During 1999-2000 the nodal ministry for the disaster management was Ministry of Agriculture because the kind of disasters was like famines and droughts. Now there are manmade disasters, industrial disasters and accidental disasters. Now we have National Disaster Response Fore (NDRF) with 10 battalions under Ministry of Home. The Army is also well integrated into the local disaster management.
- Prime Minister outlined the 10 point agenda and came up with number of suggestions and one of it was that the development in all sectors must imbibe the principles of disaster risk management and development of projects like airports, roads, canals, hospitals, schools, etc must be built with appropriate standards.
- India has developed seismic maps, cyclone maps, and hazard prone area maps. The technology has been developed so much so that modelling based on the mapping and understanding the sort of damage is possible. With integrating the historical data, with mapping and modelling we can assess the intensity of the disaster.
- Role of satellites in disaster risk management is very important and India is ready to help any country which is important in international cooperation. Satellites are useful in early warning, in mapping, and meteorology.
Awareness about Disasters
- There is awareness among people; they ask whether the building is earth quake resistant while buying it. But the things are not to a satisfactory level. The unplanned growth and development of population, congestion, and unauthorised buildings leads to difficulty in responding to disaster.
- Disasters have to be dovetailed into the development sector. The building codes have changed, become better and are area specific. In a recent fire accident which took place in Odisha everyone was worried about not following the safety standards. Now people are aware that the safety standards must be followed.
- There must be awareness generation through building capacity of the community and involving the community. Involving the first responders i.e., the people affected themselves will be able to spread the information, help each other, and can guide the outside help and aid.
Insurance coverage for Disasters
- Need for better insurance coverage. Insuring oneself against disaster is the basic concept of disaster management. Insurance is a good disaster risk reduction technique. While insuring any building and if all the safety standards are followed, the insurance premium will be less. Through this people are incentivised through insurance. Insurance will also ensure that the safety norms are followed. Insurance is there to reduce the risk in the event of disaster and to bring back to normal life with the help of insurance.
Need of the Hour
- UN can start the international competition of disaster film documentaries and UN could think of a common logo and branding under which all those helping in rehabilitation and reconstruction cap operate under it.
- International cooperation is very important in disaster management, along with knowledge network, involvement of universities, and research in specific areas. India’s disaster management plans are in sync with international standards.