Special Correspondent

Importance of building up data bank on urban areas stressed

HYDERABAD: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is mulling entrusting the mapping of 2,340 of the total of 5,161 urban centres in the country to the Geological Survey of India (GSI).

This was disclosed by M. Sashidhar Reddy, member, NDMA, at a press briefing after returning from Tokyo where he participated in a conference on ‘Natural Catastrophe Risk Insurance Mechanisms for Asia and the Pacific’.

He said that disaster risk management was largely neglected in the Asia-Pacific nations. Interestingly, while America suffered a higher number of natural disasters, the loss of human life and property was more in Asia-Pacific, indicating the lack of preparedness.

A first step to preparedness was to have an extensive data bank in place, especially those on urban areas, because the data available was virtually zero in the 5,161 urban centres in India. Hence the NDMA had mooted a proposal to have GSI take up comprehensive mapping of 2,340 centres over the next five years. The mapping is to extensively cover demographic profiling, asset listing, probable risk areas and steps to minimise risks and the like.

Dr. Reddy said the conference was designed to look at options to finance natural disaster losses, evaluate current risk-pooling mechanisms and review lessons learnt, identify what Asia and Pacific governments want from catastrophe insurance and what the needs of the insurers were, to enter such markets. It also focussed need to expand insurance coverage , Dr. Reddy said.