Citing the recent natural disasters in Uttarakhand, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday pressed for urgent steps to strengthen early warning systems and improve disaster management capabilities to save lives.
Addressing the 5th meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority chaired by him, he said extreme weather events are on the rise world over and they impact the poor and marginalised people in a disproportionate manner.
“Even as we meet here, the people of Andhra Pradesh are suffering from very heavy rains in the past few days and the resultant floods. It is therefore all the more necessary that we quickly improve our disaster management capabilities,” Dr. Singh said.
He stressed that every rupee spent on disaster preparedness is a saving of expenditure on post-disaster relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction measures.
“Disaster risk reduction strategies, therefore, need to be mainstreamed into our developmental programmes and policies. This is an area on which the NDMA and the key ministries of the central government should lay greater stress,” the Prime Minister said.
Referring to the Uttarakhand cloudburst and the subsequent floods and cyclone Phailin, he said the early warning systems and response mechanisms should be strengthened further so that the country is able to minimise the negative impact of disasters.
“In this context, NDMA’s efforts to strengthen community preparedness for disaster events and its engagement in activities related to disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness need to be continued with greater intensity,” he said.
While rains and floods in Uttarakhand resulted in large scale devastation, it severely tested the efficacy of our disaster response mechanisms, Dr. Singh said.
“There are important lessons to be learnt from the experience gained from the rescue and relief operations that were carried out. I sincerely hope that all the concerned agencies of the central and state governments will utilise the experience of Uttarakhand in better management of disasters that we may face in the future,” he said.
Terming the response to cyclone Phailin which hit Odisha and Andhra Pradesh as “encouraging”, he said it was only because of collaboration between different agencies that the daunting task of evacuating nearly 10 lakh people in the two states was accomplished in a timely manner with minimal loss of human lives.
“Our response to cyclone Phailin also underscores the importance of measures taken in the past for disaster preparedness... sustained guidance provided by NDMA over the last 8 years proved to be very useful and enabled government departments to respond quickly and systematically to the disaster,” Dr. Singh pointed out.