‘We need to learn the right lessons’
Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 4 October
Underlining the need to learn “right lessons” from the Uttarakhand tragedy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the country has to equip itself in a better way to prevent disasters and check their fall out.
“Our nation is vulnerable to a variety of natural and man-made disasters. We are all aware of the devastation that such disasters have caused in our country in the past. Also, in recent years, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events have increased globally,” he said, addressing ninth formation day of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) here.
The tragedy in Uttarakhand in June, which caused large-scale loss of life, property and public infrastructure, points not only to India’s vulnerability to disasters but also to the need to take effective measures to prevent them and contain their fall-out when they occur, Mr Singh said.
Mr Singh said that such disasters have serious implications for the sustained growth and development of the economy as scarce resources are required to be deployed to address their negative consequences.
“Our common endeavour should be to ensure that adequate capacities are built across our institutions and communities to reduce the adverse impact of disasters. While doing so, we also need to pay particular attention to the weaker sections of our society who are impacted by disasters in a disproportionately large manner,” Mr Singh said.
The central government is committed to fully assist the Uttarakhand government in rebuilding its infrastructure and help people affected by the floods, the Prime Minister said.
A Cabinet Committee has been constituted solely to provide broad guidance and support to reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the disaster-hit state, he said, adding that the Planning Commission is working to put together an Uttarakhand package in consultation with various central ministries.
“The capacities of our Panchayati Raj institutions and local communities, which are the first responders in any disaster situation, need to be enhanced further. In fact, disaster risk reduction strategies should be made an integral part of our development processes,” he said.
The NDMA will continue its efforts for strengthening community preparedness for disaster events and engaging in activities related to disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, he said.
The Prime Minister appreciated the role of various central and state governments agencies, voluntary organisations and the common people in rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand. “They worked together in very difficult conditions to save precious lives and property,” he said.
Mr Singh paid homage to those brave men and women from the Indian Air Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Disaster Response Force, the civil administration, the civilian air crew and the community at large who laid down their lives in trying to save others.
Addressing the gathering, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde asked all Himalayan states in the country to take up necessary mitigation measures to ensure safety from natural calamity.
The home minister lauded the efforts by various agencies to rescue about 1.5 lakh stranded people from flood-hit areas of Uttarakhand.