The Annual Conference of Relief Commissioners and Secretaries of Departments of Disaster Management of States and Union Territories was inaugurated by the Union Home Secretary in New Delhi today. The two day Conference is being held to review the preparedness of States and Union Territories for dealing with any natural disasters that may occur during the coming South-West Monsoon season. This conference is being held in physical mode after a gap of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his inaugural address, the Union Home Secretary asked officials from the State governments and the Central government to be better prepared, so that losses due to natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, landslides can be minimized. He stressed on the need for building up capacities and response reflexes to ensure 24×7 preparedness throughout the year. He referred to the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi’s vision to develop infrastructure for the long term, to prevent disasters not only for ourselves, but also for future generations.
The Union Home Secretary observed that through continued efforts over the last several years, the disaster management system has been able to reduce the impact of natural disasters on human lives. He observed that the Union Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah had said that after 2014, there has been a big change in the approach to disaster management as earlier the approach was only relief-centric, however now the approach of saving human lives has become an additional component of disaster management. The Union Home Minister has also emphasized that it should be ensured that lives as far as possible should not be lost in incidents such as heat waves and lightning. He underlined the importance of taking the right steps and investing resources in a timely manner to further reduce risks. Efforts should be made to increase efforts towards risk reduction and mitigation, with the aim to reduce loss of human life to near zero.
He called on the States to undertake capacity building of urban local bodies, their State Disaster Response Forces (SDRFs), Fire Service and Civil Defence since they are the first responders during a calamity. He also emphasised the importance of building capacities at the city and district levels and involving communities.
The Union Home Secretary said that besides floods, in recent years cyclonic storms, forest fires, heat wave conditions and lightning strikes have shown an increasing trend. He stressed that the key to effective disaster risk management is to build synergies and effective coordination amongst institutions. This could be ensured by preparing action plans at local, district and State levels.
During the conference, various States will share their preparedness and experience and best practices evolved for handling various calamities over the years. Representative of 27 States, 7 Union Territories, representatives of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Central Ministries, the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the Central Water Commission (CWC), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and other scientific organizations along with the Armed Forces are participating in the conference.