India at par with world in disaster management: Home Minister Amit Shah

Union Home and Cooperation Minister, Amit Shah addressing the Annual Conference on Capacity Building for Disaster Response - 2022, organised by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), in New Delhi on Thursday.
Union Home and Cooperation Minister, Amit Shah addressing the Annual Conference on Capacity Building for Disaster Response - 2022, organised by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), in New Delhi on Thursday.ANI

New Delhi: Union Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Cooperation Amit Shah who attended the Annual Conference on Capacity Building for Disaster Response - 2022 organised by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as the Chief Guest at Vigyan Bhawan, Delhi on Thursday said India has increased its stature in disaster management and now its capacity is at par with many other countries in the world, and on many occasions, even ahead of them.

The Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, Union Home Secretary and Director General of NDRF, Atul Karwal were present on the occasion including several dignitaries, as per an official statement.

In his address, the Union Home Minister said that with a holistic integrated approach, NDMA headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, SDMAs headed by all Chief Ministers, disaster management has been taken to the ground with confidence by the Central and State Governments.

"Before the nineties, we had a relief-centric approach, there was no scope for saving lives and property and it was not part of the planning. Now we have done a lot of work on the scientific program of saving lives and property based on early warning, proactive prevention, mitigation and pre-preparation.

Today, in the field of disaster response in the world, we are standing on an equal footing and even ahead in many areas", Shah said. The Union Home Minister said that in the year 2016, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, started the NDMP scheme of NDMA.

“It is the first national disaster plan prepared in the country and matches all the parameters of Sendai Disaster Risk Reduction Framework-2015 to 2030. For the first time, a plan was made for horizontal and vertical integration of all the agencies and departments of the government and the result is in front of us. In this scheme, the government has been linked up to the level of panchayat, urban local bodies and different government departments, making the collector the nodal agency. In 2016, 11 disasters were included in this plan and in 2019, 17 disasters have been included in it. This tells that we are continuously working on all kinds of disasters and we have brought down the number of casualties due to disasters a lot and this is our great achievement,” he said.

The Union Home Minister said that if someone thinks that disaster response work cannot be done by resources or research paper alone.

“Building the capacity of those who take it to the bottom is very important as many agencies have to work together. Without clarity on each other's role and if there is a gap in someone's role, then the work of disaster response cannot be done properly till the bottom without gaining the ability to fill it. It is through this type of exercise that a mutual coordination is created with the states, districts and down to the villages and in the end this mutual coordination becomes the reason for saving lives and property from disaster,” Shah said.

Shah said that today due to technology and science, we get early information, but disaster response cannot be successful until the professional mastery is not attained in taking the accurate information to the bottom, alerting the disaster prone place from the point of view of disaster, taking action to save lives and then to minimize the damages to property. He said that the protocol for coordination between 5-6 agencies related to all these works and its practical experience is also very important.

Appreciating the work of NDRF, the Union Home Minister said that hardly any organisation has instilled faith in the people of this vast country of 130 crore people for its work in such a short time since its inception.

“Any type of disaster strikes anywhere in the country, in any region and when people come to know that NDRF has come together with SDRF, half of their worries are gone. This faith cannot be created by government circulars, but by acts. During many incidents, NDRF has responded on the spot and saved life and property, due to which faith has been built on it. NDRF has also secured its place among the organisations working in the field of disaster response across the world and it is a matter of great pride for the country. Even by visiting neighboring countries many times, NDRF has helped them from the point of view of humanity and conveyed the message of India to the world,” he said.

Amit Shah said that the time period from 2000 to 2022 will be considered as the golden period for disaster management in India.

“After a very long journey in India in such a short span of twenty years, we have reached a glorious place. Disaster management is not a new thing in our country, we all have heard about Bhagirath that he brought Ganga down to earth. But today, if we see the Ganges going from the hills of Uttarakhand to the Bay of Bengal, then it is known that someone has made this path by thinking scientifically and has done a great job of flood management as well as water management. That is why even after thousands of years, when a person tries very well, scientifically and with hard work, then we call it “Bhagirath Prayas”, he said.

“Before the nineties, we did not have any scientific system here. At the time of disaster, the idea of its maintenance and giving money came first and there was no concept of protection of life and property from disaster. But today we have come a long way in less than 20 years due to the “Bhagirath Prayas”of NDRF. Everyone has seen the 1999 Odisha super cyclone, in which more than ten thousand people died, in 2001 Gujarat earthquake thousands of people died, but today we are standing at such a place that no matter how many cyclones come, we have brought down the casualties to less than one percent,” he added.

The Union Home Minister said that many initiatives have been taken by the Central Government and the State Governments have also responded very well to it.

“So far, SDRFs have been constituted in 26 states and union territories. NDRF gets involved with SDRFs training at the time of their formation, that is why it has been successful in bringing about uniformity in the field of management at NDRF, SDRF and Panchayat level in such a large country. We have achieved this success while respecting the federal structure. So far, more than 21,000 SDRF personnel have been trained,” he said.

He said that so far 32 guidelines have been made, out of which eight have been made in the last two and a half years. Cold wave, earthquake protection, house owners guideline for roof cooling, Glacial Lake outburst flood, heatwave guideline, landslide risk, disability inclusive disaster risk reduction, temporary homes for disaster affected families, the work of implementation of these 8 guidelines across the states is also accomplished.

“To accelerate, honor and acknowledge this work, the Prime Minister of the country has also started the Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar. For the first time after independence, disaster management has got such approval at the national level and the first award has been given to the 8th Battalion of NDRF as an institution on 23 January this year. He said that this award is a small thing to see but the competition and aspiration to get the award leads to excellence and it also gives pride,” he added.

The Union Home Minister said that the states have also done a very good job in ensuring the active availability of force as per advance information which is received under pre-deployment policy.

“Wherever the information or alerts went, the states have worked to implement the pre-deployment principle and 12 battalions of NDRF always stand shoulder to shoulder with the states and SDRF. To take it further down, work has been done to implement Aapda Mitra Scheme in 350 districts, which aims to generate more than one lakh youth volunteers. No village should be left where a contingent of youth is not trained by it, no city ward should be left where a contingent of youth is not trained in all disciplines of disaster prevention,” he said.

“They have to do limited work but stopping the rumours, getting people out of the risk zone on time, giving some primary information and when vacuum comes, work in place of SDRF, all these things have been made part of their training. A lot of apps have also been created, the weather app is available for all things like cyclone, heavy rain, heat and cold wave. Meghdoot is designed for weather based agriculture management by farmers, Damini is designed for lighterning alert.

There must be a mechanism to push these apps to the bottom as the alerts that come are very accurate and come ahead of time. If the alert reaches the collector but does not reach the village from the collector, then this alert can be of little use. We are doing very well in big disasters, but in disasters like lightning, the time is short, so our system will have to be fine-tuned and should be on a real time basis so that our alert will reach the area where lightning is going to happen. NDRF should also work to set up a mechanism for this. Still a lot more work needs to be done to bring all these apps to the bottom,” he added.

The Union Home Minister said that the Common Alert Protocol has also been of great benefit and in North East with the help of NESAC flood management, road alignment, infrastructure construction based on the flow and course of water and the construction of infrastructure should block the water course , with all these initiatives very good flood mapping of areas has been done.

Flood mapping is now a part of all road construction programmes. He said that NCC, NSS, Home Guard, all these organisations will have to be associated with this concept and all these alerts have to reach the bottom. Some women self-help groups, who are aware, will also have to be associated with it, especially the village panchayat.

“For this, all the literature will have to be made in local languages, training modules will also have to be made in the local language and trainers prepared from local languages will have to train them and prepare them and train them there in their own state itself, we will also have to create a system for this. We will not have the availability of volunteers until NCC, NSS, Home Guards connect all these and the success of this whole scheme is that our trained person is available there at the time of disaster in any small part of the country and he himself should do the work of NDRF and till the time SDRF and NDRF arrive to handle the situation,” he added.

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