THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Destruction of forests and ecosystems makes the entire human race prone to disasters, said Geraldine Fraser Molekat, UNDP global director for democratic governance, at the inaugural session of the international workshop on ‘Disaster risk reduction and contingency planning’ held here on Friday as part of the ongoing Surakshaayanam-2012.
‘’There is a direct link to mismanagement of ecosystem and disasters. The unprecedented increase in urbanisation leads to competition for resources, including water, challenges in infrastructure development and often social and economic inequalities. These inequalities could lead to violence and criminalisation and increase in risks for disasters,’’ she said.
Reminding that we have borrowed this world from those who are yet to be born, Fraser Molekati said that people’s participation is very important in disaster risk reduction. ‘’Women, children and marginalised sections of the society bear the brunt of natural disasters and their participation in disaster mitigation measures is very important. Civil society organisations and NGOs have an important role in educating and empowering communities with regard to disaster management,’’ she said.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullappally Ramachandran, in his special address, said that Kerala has been identified for establishing three ‘Cyclone shelter homes’ under a pilot scheme of the World Bank-supported National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Scheme.
‘’Besides, for immediate relief and response in the event of natural disasters, Kerala has been allocated ` 724.29 crore for the period 2010-15 under the State Disaster Response Fund,’’ he said.
‘’India is witnessing a paradigm shift from relief-centric response to proactive prevention, mitigation and preparedness-driven approach,’’ said Ramachandran, while announcing his commitment to include erosion of coastline and lightning under the Government of India’s list of disasters, as Kerala often witnesses disasters due to cyclones and lightning.
Disasters, whether natural or manmade, evoke strong reactions and emotions, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said while citing the fallouts of the 9/11 terror strike in the USA. The disaster has left obvious impact on the economies of the world and led to “diversion of resources to defence, counter-terrorism, homeland security and financing of war in West Asia.”
Affirming the fundamental responsibility of the state to ensure the safety of its citizens, Chandy said that all industrial or economic activities involve some risk and that the state should ensure that all such activities are carried out with utmost care.
‘’In dealing with any disaster, or while acting to prevent any likely disaster, we should not cause more harm than what the disaster would have caused,” he added.
Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Revenue Secretary Nivedita P Haran, National Disaster Management Authority member T Nandakumar and Kerala State Disaster Management Authority secretary K B Valsala Kumari IAS also spoke on the occasion.