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PM underlines need to improve country's disaster management capabilities

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chairing the fifth meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority, in New Delhi on October 28, 2013.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chairing the fifth meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority, in New Delhi on October 28, 2013.
Prime MInister Manmohan Singh today said that, the world over, extreme weather events were on the rise, making it all the more necessary for the country to quickly improve its disaster management capabilities.
 
"Such events impact the poor and marginalized 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," he said in his opening remarks at the fifth meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) here.
 
Dr Singh said that every rupee spent on disaster preparedness was 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," he said.
 
He said the country's early warning systems and response mechanisms should be strengthened further so that the country was able to minimize 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.
 
Dr Singh said the country had witnessed two major disasters recently -- the flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand and the very severe cyclone Phailin which hit Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
 
He said the rains and floods in Uttarakhand resulted in large-scale devastation and severely tested the efficacy of the country's disaster response mechanisms.
 
"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 utilize the experience of Uttarakhand in better management of disasters that we may face in the future," he said.
 
He said the country's response to the more recent cyclone in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh had been encouraging.
 
"I am happy that the NDMA played a significant role in this response through close engagement and coordination with various Central Government Agencies, the State Government and even the District administration. It was only because of collaboration between different agencies that the daunting task of evacuating nearly 10 lakh people in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh was accomplished in a timely manner and with minimal loss of human lives," he said.
 
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"Our response to cyclone Phailin also underscores the importance of measures taken in the past for disaster preparedness, including sentisization of stakeholders and mock exercises," he said.
 
He noted that the sustained guidance provided by NDMA over the last eight years proved to be very useful and enabled government departments to respond quickly and systematically to the disaster. 
 
"Collaboration between NDMA and the Odisha Disaster Management Authority in the pre-disaster phase of preparation of Disaster Management plans and formulation of Standard Operation Procedures; construction of a large number of cyclone shelters etc. resulted in positive outcomes. I am also informed that the mock exercise organized in Srikakulam District on 25th-26th April, 2013 and public awareness messages published in that area on 8th and 9th October 2013 helped both the district administration as well as the community in executing a disciplined and quick response to the cyclone," he added.
 
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