Three lakh people lost their lives in natural calamities in 2 decades in the SCO countries: Amit Shah

NEW DELHI: Minister of Interior of the Union Amit Shah on Monday he said that more than three lakhs of people lost their lives in SCO countries during different natural calamities in two decades from 1996, while two lakhs died due to earthquakes.

Opening the joint exercise (SCO) on Search and Rescue of Urban Earthquakes (SCOJtEx) -2019 here, Shah said it will be very useful for improving collective preparation and building a common understanding of internationally recognized procedures to coordinate post-earthquake responses .

During 1996-2015, more than three lakh people lost their lives due to natural calamities. Earthquakes have claimed more than two lakhs of lives, representing two-thirds of disaster-related mortality in SCO countries, he said.

Shah said that the joint exercise with the SCO member states will be useful for developing personal understanding among the counterpart teams when working together to address any disaster situation.

In establishing the centrality of SCO nations to deal with disasters, the Interior Minister said that none of the global objectives to reduce disaster losses, whether they are enshrined in the Sendai Framework or can be met by 2030, unless the SCO countries succeed.

International cooperation in this area is therefore very important, he said.

Shah said that India gives special importance to the SCO as an excellent platform to synergize the efforts of all member states in the field of multilateral, political, security, economic and person-to-person interaction in the region.

He noted that the SCO has become an important international organization, as it represents 40 percent of the world's population, 20 percent of the world's GDP and 22 percent of the world's geographical area.

Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the HEALTH mantra to SCO members for cooperation in six areas that are medical, economic, alternative energy, literature and culture, terrorism-free society and humanitarian cooperation.

The Interior Minister said that India is making concerted efforts to strengthen response capacities and take specific measures.

Our national disaster management plan was launched in 2016. All of our 28 states, nine Union Territories and 90 percent of our districts have completed their disaster management plan, he said.

Shah said that efforts are now being made to review this national plan that has taken into account not only the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, but also the sustainable development goals and the agreement.

Highlighting India's effort to reduce preventable deaths and other disaster losses, the Interior Minister cited the example of effective management of cyclones Phaillin, Hudhud and Fani in the recent past and said that this was the direct result of a series of political initiatives and the improvement of capacities for early warning, early preparation, training and capacity development.

During Cyclone Fani, the loss of life was reduced to 64 people compared to 10,000 lives in the 1999 Odisha Super Cyclone. In other words, in just over a decade, India was able to reduce the loss of life to less than 1 percent in comparisons with the past, he said.

Speaking about India's approach to disaster-resistant infrastructure to minimize deaths, Shah said India is defending a coalition for disaster-resistant infrastructure, which will be multi-risk oriented and will also help minimize losses to Property and infrastructure.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched this Coalition during the UN Climate Summit in New York.