Great advances in disaster management, says Amit Shah at the SCO meeting

NEW DELHI: Union Interior Minister Amit Shah said Monday that India, thanks to its political initiatives in disaster management, early warning capabilities and advanced preparations, has been able to reduce the loss of life due to disasters to less than 1% of the figures recorded just over a decade ago.

Citing the example of India's effective management of cyclones Phailin in 2013, Hudhud in 2014 and Fani earlier this year, Shah, in his inaugural address in the joint exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on 'search and rescue of urban earthquakes' here, he noted that The loss of life was reduced to 64 during Cyclone Fani in Odisha, from 10,000 lives lost in the Super Cyclone Odisha of 1999.

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 from property and infrastructure.

The four-day joint SCO exercise, organized by the NDRF, is the result of the ninth meeting of heads of government departments of the SCO countries dealing with the prevention and elimination of emergency situations, held in Kyrgyzstan in 2017. India, in that event, offered to organize the next annual disaster management exercise for the region.

Opening the joint SCO exercise here, Shah said it will be useful for improving collective readiness and building a common understanding of internationally recognized procedures to coordinate post-earthquake responses.

Shah noted that more than 3 lakh people had lost their lives in SCO countries in different natural calamities between 1996 and 2015, of which 2 lakh died due to earthquakes only.

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

He pointed out how SCO has become an important international organization, as it represents 40% of the world's population, 20% of the world's GDP and 22% of the global geographic area.

Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given the HEALTH mantra to SCO members for cooperation in six areas of health, economy, alternative energy, literature and culture, terrorism-free society and humanitarian work.

The Interior Minister said efforts are being made to review the national disaster management plan, taking into account not only the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, but also the sustainable development goals and the agreement on change climate.