Integration of disaster risk reduction strategies must involve local communities to realize development initiatives, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said.

“Managing disasters is necessarily a collaborative and complex exercise and I believe that integration of disaster risk reduction strategies must involve local communities to realize development initiatives,” the chief minister said while presiding over the first session on the State Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Shimla on Thursday.

The chief minister said that the state government had prepared Hazard, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment atlas and Himachal was the only Himalayan state which had prepared HVRA Atlas in the country.

He then said that Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies along with NGOs can supplement the efforts of the government to mitigate disasters and lessen its impact.

Since, Himachal Pradesh falls in seismic zone five, which is most vulnerable to earthquakes and also to natural and man-made disasters, there was a need to foster an enabling environment for developing a culture of prevention and to undertake concerted measures to facilitate the integration of disaster management into development planning in various sectors, the chief minister said.

“Disasters strike us unaware and we should be ready to face these as and when they occur,” Singh said, adding that it becomes desirable that state government departments, district administrations, educational institutions and various other stakeholders in the field of disaster management and people representing different interests in the area should evolve a participatory process of decision making in disaster management and mitigation.

“I am very happy that the state has made good progress in these areas in the last few years”, he said, adding, “We have endeavoured to paradigm shift in disaster management from the relief centric classical approach to more holistic approach”.

Singh congratulated the Himachal Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (HPSDMA) and said that the platform would emerge as a very useful forum for exchange of ideas and experience and would be of great help to the States in building system for preventing disasters.