NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday asked the state governments to be better prepared for natural disasters to reduce their impact and minimise damage, especially loss of human lives.Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba made the statement while inaugurating the annual conference of state relief commissioners and secretaries. Gauba pointed out that on an average natural disasters claimed 2,200 lives every year, and these disasters also caused economic losses of approximately `60,000 crore per annum. Gauba cited the statistics while considering the impact of natural disasters such as floods, cyclones and earthquakes during 2005-14.
“We have to build our capacities through better weather forecasts, conducting mock drills and improved resource management,” he said. Gauba said India is flood-prone as the bulk of precipitation takes place in a short time, but losses can be reduced through better preparation. “Through continued efforts over the last several years we have managed to reduce the impact of natural disasters, still there is room for improvement,” he said.
Gauba urged the states to build their own capacities and gradually reduce dependence on the Centre. He also emphasised the importance of building capacities at the city and district levels and involving communities. However, he maintained that the home ministry would continue to provide assistance to states.
In his address, RK Jain, Member, National Disaster Management Authority, said deaths due to heat waves, which were about 2,200 in 2015, had come down to about 220 in 2017, primarily due to the groundwork done for dissemination of information and creating better awareness, among other things.
Sanjay Kumar, Director General, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), said more than 35 NDRF teams engaged in rescue operations in the flood-hit areas last year, and they rescued more than 3,000 people and evacuated over one lakh people. He said 12 battalions of the NDRF were stationed all over the country for quick deployment in times of emergency.
The day-long conference was attended by relief commissioners of state governments and the Union Territories and officials of the India Meteorological Department, Geological Survey of India, Defence Ministry and the Central Water Commission.