The Chief of the Indian Navy, Admiral D.K. Joshi, on Wednesday urged navies in the region to prepare a framework for swift and sufficient responses to natural disasters.

In his keynote address at the biennial multi-naval engagement, Milan, on the theme of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), he said Indo-Pacific was the locus of natural disasters, with the Indian Ocean accounting for 70 per cent of them. As this posed a common challenge to the nations and navies in the region, they should develop capacity and common procedures for rapid deployment of forces to help the suffering. While individual nations needed to integrate internal agencies, pooling of resources and efforts at the international level was also required.

Standardised procedures among the external agencies and the affected country would lead to more effective relief operations. But for this to happen, the navies should train together.

Logistics and delivery of medical aid posed other challenges, Admiral Joshi said. The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) was developing a standard operating procedure for HADR. He lauded efforts by Brunei and Indonesia to enhance HADR cooperation and training in the region.

In his inaugural address, Andaman and Nicobar Lieutenant-Governor Lieutenant-General A.K. Singh spoke of the massive emergency response exercise conducted in the island chain after he took over. SMS- and land phone-based activation of sirens and VHF-linked public address systems were introduced in vulnerable areas on a pilot basis, given the short time-span of response to earthquake and tsunami that were close to the region.

Air Marshal P.K. Roy, Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, said regional naval forces could consider establishing a web-based portal for international response teams to coordinate disaster response.

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