'Government, people should reduce disaster risks'

Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Delivering the third Dr VKRV Rao Memorial Lecture organised by Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC) at Raj Bhavan, Gandhi said it was “worrisome” that there was hardly any public debate and discourse on tackling geo-physical challenges to human safety.

Gandhi referred to the nuclear melt down threat at Fukushima in Japan following last week’s devastating earthquake as a “global marker against the casualness in the matter of nuclear power plants.”

In the Indian perspective, he said, the Narora nuclear plant in New Delhi was located in a seismic high risk area and wondered whether precautions had been taken to ensure that building in the national capital region were safe against earthquakes.

“We have huge industrial complexes, power plants in such areas including nuclear plants. Are they proof against earthquakes”, he said in his lecture metaphorically titled “Please fasten your seat belts: we are passing through turbulent weather.”

Natural and man-made

Pointing out that the old distinction between natural disasters and man-man disasters were no longer clearly demarcated, Gandhi wondered whether metropolises and cities were prepared for the rescue and relief systems in the event of such calamities.

“All I see is every sign of blind pursuit of contractor-driven, cement-driven and city-driven growth and development paradigms that deny the wisdom of safety and the intelligence of security”.

Gandhi said the country was also living in the midst of chronic disasters of its own making. “Land and water are under stress, largely because access to them is skewed. When it comes to emissions and drawls of scare resources, most bulk users of land, water and electricity are being indulgent, wasteful, extravagant”, he said.

Communal divide

Governor H R Bhardwaj said circumstances that would lead to communal and caste divide in the country was more dangerous than any nuclear disaster.  There was need to focus on good values and bring the same back into society.

Two books brought out by ISEC, “Development Windows” and “Social Science Research in India” were also launched on the occasion.

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