India ready to help nations in disaster response: Rajnath

India ready to help nations in disaster response: Rajnath

India ready to help nations in disaster response: Rajnath

India today expressed willingness to share its expertise and help other nations in disaster response and capacity building and asked the international community to strengthen support mechanisms.

Addressing the third world conference on disaster risk reduction here, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India was committed to work with other countries in Asia Pacific region and beyond in building resilient nations and communities, against disasters.

"We are keen to share our expertise and help other countries in disaster response and capacity building. We envisage a bigger role in capacity building in the Asia Pacific region and look forward to build sustained regional and international partnerships under the post-2015 Framework," he said addressing the international audience.

Singh said besides the role of specialised agencies, indigenous technical knowledge and community-based methodologies to deal with natural disasters are of utmost importance.

"I would like to share that the government of India has mainstreamed disaster risk reduction in its development policies at all levels. By taking adequate measures for preparedness to handle disasters at all the levels, we were able to limit the loss of human lives to 44 in Odisha due to cyclone Phailin," he said.

This is in contrast with the death of over 8,900 people in the super cyclone that struck the state in 1999. This substantive reduction could be brought around through regular investments in improving our forecasting systems, apart from capacity building measures involving the communities, he said.

The home minister said more multi-purpose cyclone shelters were constructed during this period and more than a million people were evacuated and brought to safe places, before the cyclone Phailin made landfall.

"We would also like to call upon all entities, public and private, to strengthen the international support mechanisms for disaster risk reduction by sharing of reliable and affordable modern technology for capacity-building and enabling institutional and policy environment at all levels," he said.

The home minister said the Hyogo Framework for Action has provided a blueprint for disaster risk reduction activities including promotion of culture of prevention, mitigation, preparedness and resilience at all levels.

Since then, considerable progress has been made by investing resources and enhancing capacities in dealing with the disasters. However, much needs to be done in the future, he said.

Singh said the recent events in India such as the floods of 2013 in Uttarakhand, cyclone 'Phailin' in Odisha in 2013, floods in Jammu and Kashmir, and cyclone 'Hudhud' in Andhra Pradesh in 2014 have once again brought into focus the need for multiplying efforts towards disaster risk reduction.

"The unplanned development of cities and lack of proper infrastructure are the major challenges of the future. While communities, particularly women and children, exposed to these events are trying to adapt to these regular occurrences, the economic and social costs continue to mount year after year," he said.

Reiterating the commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in SAARC Summit last year by ensuring India's help and expertise to the neighbouring countries, the home minister said India hosts the SAARC Disaster Management Centre which is working towards putting in place a framework to reduce disaster risks and promoting knowledge sharing among the SAARC countries.

"The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services operates the Tsunami Early Warning System. This is a state-of-the-art warning system which benefits not only India but also the littoral countries of Indian Ocean.

"Our National Disaster Response Force which has the expertise in addressing national disasters also attends to disasters in the region and beyond. The National Institute of Disaster Management organises trainings on various thematic domains of disaster risk management," he said.

The home minister said India's Finance Commission, a constitutional body that recommends distribution of tax proceeds between the federal government and the states, in its recent report has called for hazard, risk and vulnerability assessment in all states.

"This will be an important step in ensuring that over time, notions of risk reduction are embedded in every penny we spend on development. We are promoting cooperative federalism and devolving more power and resources closer to the ground of action.

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