Disaster management occupies an important place in Indiaâ€™s policy; Home Minister
The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh said that it was a great opportunity for India to host first “South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise” (SAADMEx), which will now be hosted by rotation every year among the SAARC member countries. He was speaking on the occasion of the Valedictory Session of the SAADMEx-2015 in New Delhi today. He said that this event is important in the wake of recent disasters occurring in South Asia. He said that India has faced many natural disasters in the recent years including Gujarat earthquake (2001), Sikkim Earthquake (2011), cyclone Phailin and Hudhud cyclone in coastal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in the year 2013 and 2014. He said that India could take preventive steps and reduce the loss of lives in case of cyclone Phailin because of the timely evacuation of people from the coastal areas. Similarly human loss could be minimized in case of cyclone Hudhud because of precautionary and preventive measures. Disaster management occupies an important place in Indiaâ€™s policy as poor people are mainly affected by these disasters, he added.
Rajnath Singh said that India is always ready to help others in case of need. He said when earthquake hit Nepal on 25th April, 2015, Indian Government was able to send rescue teams within five hours of the earthquake. India is taking a lead role in this regard, he added. He said that, given the recent incidents of disasters in South Asia, the SAADMEx has provided a platform for sharing the best practices in case of disasters. He also said that national and regional policies should be based on good governance, information sharing and cooperation between institutions engaged in the task of risk reduction. The Union Home Minister also presented mementos and certificates to the delegate leaders and the head observers from the states.
H.E. Arjun Bahadur Thapa, Secretary General of SAARC, congratulated the members and said this is the first of its kind exercise in this region. He appreciated the Government of India for engaging SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC) in this noble exercise, which was set up in Delhi in 2006. This exercise will help in boosting morale of the delegates, he said.
Shri O.P. Singh, DG, NDRF said that timely action and close cooperation can help to tackle humanitarian tragedy. SAADMEx is a platform to evaluate the existing scenario with the cooperation of other countries. He also said that climate change is expected to increase the climate related disasters, increasing sea level being the most important danger. He said that â€œone SAARC, one Responseâ€ is the basic concept behind this exercise, creating synergy in efforts in case of eventuality. The follow-up action of this exercise is also important, he emphasized.
Shri R. K. Jain, Member Secretary, NDMA said that collective response is better than individual response. This three-day exercise will help in bringing a big change in our approach, he added. He said that this is a new beginning in the history of disaster risk reduction.
This was the first “South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise” (SAADMEx-2015) organized by the Government of India which provided a platform for strengthening Regional Disaster Response Mechanism amongst the SAARC countries. The main focus of SAADMEx-2015 was to test coordination efforts, create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalize Regional Cooperation on Disaster Response among the member countries. The Advance Coordination Conference (ACC) for this Exercise was successfully conducted with the participation of representatives from SAARC member countries on September 3-4, 2015 where the modalities and requirements of the common exercise were discussed.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Shri Kiren Rijiju had inaugurated the SAADMEx-2015 on November 23, 2015. The Exercise was conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Delhi – National Capital Region. On the first day, during the Table Top sessions, different kinds of disaster situations were simulated and individual and joint response measures got discussed. On the second day, response for Collapsed Structure Search and Rescue (CSSR) was carried out at Ghaziabad to demonstrate the CSSR capabilities of participating nations which was followed by a demonstration on Chemical Emergency Response at Greater Noida on the third day. During the course of the exercise, various types of latest gadgets and equipments as well as varied Disaster Response skill sets were demonstrated by the teams of the participating nations.
The Joint Exercise will be followed by a day-long SAARC Regional Workshop on Sharing Best Practices on “Disaster Risk Reduction” due to be held in New Delhi on tomorrow. The Regional Workshop will be inaugurated by Dr. P.K. Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to Prime Minister of India. This workshop is also an outcome of one of the announcements made at the Conference of Cabinet Secretaries of SAARC Nations.