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New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) The Centre on Tuesday asked states to step up their preparedness by advance planning and deployment of human, physical and financial resources ahead of the southwest monsoon which will arrive in the first week of next month.
Addressing the annual conference of Relief Commissioners and Secretaries to review preparedness for southwest monsoon 2019, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba said the Centre would provide all possible assistance under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) and the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) besides mobilization of central forces.
Gauba said the Centre had released more than Rs 7,000 crore under the SDRF and an additional Rs 10,000 crore under the NDRF last year to the states for disaster relief.
Noting that they are the first responders during a calamity, the Home Secretary called upon the states to undertake capacity building of urban local bodies, the State Disaster Response Forces (SDRF), Fire Service and Civil Defence.
Gauba urged the states to increase coverage of farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana crop insurance scheme to provide immediate relief to farmers in the event of natural disasters.
Referring to the recent cyclone ‘Fani’, he said loss of human lives was minimal due to accurate and early weather forecasting by India Meteorological Department (IMD) and timely mobilization of resources besides better coordination among Centre, state governments and other relevant agencies.
Commending the excellent work done by various agencies in mitigating the hardships caused by ‘Fani’, he asked the states to further improve their capabilities to be able to effectively handle the disaster situations.
Citing a United Nations report, the Home Secretary said disasters had caused economic losses of $3 trillion globally during the last two decades. “India alone suffered losses to the tune of $80 billion during 1997-2017,” he said.
Stating that India is prone to various kinds of disasters, Gauba called for building disaster resilient infrastructure as a long term measure to minimize the economic losses.
He said the Centre has sanctioned additional battalions of the National Disaster Response Force and new battalions are being set up in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and National Capital Region.
Speaking on the occasion, Director General, IMD, K.J. Ramesh noted India has set a new benchmark in disaster risk reduction as demonstrated during the recent cyclone ‘Fani’. “IMD is in the process of building the most advanced early Warning Weather System in coordination with various stakeholders,” he said.
In his address, D.N. Sharma, Member of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said that India has been able to reduce deaths due to natural disasters substantially.
While 385 people had died last year due to natural disasters, the figure came down to 195 this year, said Sharma, adding the NDMA has come out with the Urban Flood Management Plan in 2015 which can serve as a template for tackling monsoon flooding.
Director General, NDRF, S.N. Pradhan, said prediction, prepositioning of resources and proactive partnerships among various stakeholders are crucial for effective countering of natural disasters.
In his opening remarks, Sanjeev Jindal, Joint Secretary, in the Ministry of Home Affairs, said the annual conference on monsoon preparedness has been extended to two days for the first time to allow for a comprehensive planning ahead of the monsoon season.
Apart from the Relief Commissioners from the states, the conference is being attended by officials of the IMD, the Geological Survey of India, the Home and Defence Ministries and the Central Water Commission.