The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Monday said precious lives could have been saved in Uttarakhand had the weather office made precise forecasts.

“They [India Meteorological Department] need to develop a more precise observational and forecasting capability,” NDMA vice-chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy said here.

Speaking at the inaugural function of the South Asia Regional Consultation on Climate Change Adaptation, Mr. Reddy said the IMD followed a standard format of weather forecast and used certain terminologies like rainfall and heavy rainfall but “how are we supposed to translate it into action? They need to pinpoint where and how much it is going to rain.”

CAG criticism

Responding to reporters’ queries on Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) criticism of the NDMA’s functioning, Mr. Reddy admitted to gaps in disaster preparedness level of the agency.

“As far as our shortcomings are concerned, we are ready to work on them,” he said, adding that the government auditor needed to be sensitised to disasters.

“There is a table in the CAG report which lists India’s major disasters in the last 10 years and I am surprised it hasn’t mentioned the 2005 Mumbai floods,” he said.

David Mcloughlin, Deputy Representative, Unicef India and convener of India’s United Nations Disaster Management Team, appreciated the government’s rescue efforts.

“The government’s response to the crisis was robust given the criticality of the situation, difficult geographical structure and the large number of people involved. But I feel the government has done exceptionally well,” Mr. Mcloughlin said.

He also emphasised on developing community resilience, which would help to prepare individuals for disaster at the local level. “We have been doing workshops aimed at making people aware of the outcome of their actions and also to prepare them for such calamities,” he said.

Global phenomenon

“Climate change is a global phenomenon that exacerbates current local problems. Studies show up to a 29 per cent increase in moderate stunting in developing countries, and regionally up to a 62 per cent increase in South Asia, compared to a world without climate change, Mr. Mcloughlin said while pointing out the impact it had on children. “Due to climate change, children may be forced to miss or drop out of school as a result of destruction of facilities or to help their families recover from extreme events,” he added.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator and Chair of the UNDMT, Lise Grande, said that responding to climate change was not only about reducing risks. “Slowing climate change requires a social transformation of values through relevant learning and education systems, application of innovative sustainable technologies to shift global consumption and production to sustainable low-emission pathways, reductions in inequalities and strong inclusive local governance,” she said.

The workshop will address ways to increase agricultural productivity in the context of climate change adaptation, and strengthen capacities of participants in the area of climate resilient farming practices.

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