The Centre on May 18 asked the state governments to be better prepared for natural disasters to reduce their impact which have claimed 2,200 lives and have caused economic losses of Rs 60,000 crore per annum. Inaugurating the annual conference of state relief commissioners and secretaries, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba said on an average, during 2005-14, India suffered economic losses of approximately Rs 60,000 crore per annum due to different kinds of natural disasters of which the maximum damage was caused by floods.
Gauba asked all the concerned officials of the central and the state governments to be better prepared to minimise losses due to natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes etc.
“We have to build our capacities through better weather forecast, conducting mock drills and improved resource management,” he said. Gauba said India is flood-prone as bulk of precipitation takes place in a short time but losses can be reduced through better preparation. “Though continued efforts over the last several years we have managed to reduce the impact of natural disasters, still there is room for improvement,” he said.
Assuring the states that the Home Ministry’s assistance would continue, Gauba urged them to build their own capacities and gradually reduce dependence on the Centre. He also emphasized the importance of building capacities at the city and district levels and involving communities.
In his address, R K Jain, Member, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said deaths due to heat waves, which were about 2,200 in 2015, have scaled down to about 220 in 2017 primarily due to the ground work done on dissemination of information, better awareness, among others.
Director General, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Sanjay Kumar said last year more than 35 NDRF teams were airlifted for rescue operations in the flood-hit areas and they rescued more than 3,000 people and evacuated over one lakh people. He said 12 battalions of the NDRF are stationed all over the country for quick deployment in times of emergency.
The one-day conference was attended by relief commissioners of the state governments and the Union Territories and officials of the India Meteorological Department, Geological Survey of India, Defence Ministry and the Central Water Commission.