Proactive approach and tech key to minimise damage from natural disasters: PM

NEW DELHI, 10 Mar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday pitched for a “proactive rather than reactive” approach and the use of future technologies in handling natural disasters to minimise damage.
Inaugurating the third session of the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR) here, the prime minister said, “We cannot stop natural disasters but we can come up with systems to minimise damage from them.”
“We have to be proactive rather than reactive. What was the situation in the country (earlier) for being proactive and what is the situation now? Even after five decades of independence, there was no law in the country to tackle disasters,” he said.
After the 2001 earthquake in Kutch, Gujarat was the first state to come up with a disaster management act, he said. On the basis of this act, the Centre enacted the National Disaster Management Act in 2005, he said.
Subsequently, the National Disaster Management Authority was set up.
The PM said that traditional housing and town planning process should be enriched with future technology to better manage disaster planning, and added real-time assessment of resilience of local infrastructure is the need of the hour.
“Tradition and technology are our inherent strength. We can use it to build model for disaster resilience not only for India but for the entire world,” he said.
The prime minister said there is a need to develop models of housing or town planning at the local level.
“We need to encourage use of advanced technology in these sectors, be it local construction material or construction technology,” Modi said.
He said that India now responds quickly to disasters across the global and takes initiatives for developing resilience infrastructure.
He said that recognition and reforms are necessary to strengthen disaster management.
“Recognition refers to understanding the probability of a disaster and areas where it can strike in future, and reforms mean system to reduce the chances of disaster,” he said.
The prime minister said it should be a matter of pride for every Indian that the entire world has applauded the country’s disaster relief work after the massive earthquake in Turkiye and Syria. The massive earthquake last month killed at least 50,000 people and injured many more in these two countries.
“The way India has developed relief- and rescue-related human resource and technology capacity has helped the country in saving lives during natural disasters,” the prime minister said.
He said that the theme for this year’s event is ‘Building local resilience in changing climate’, “with which India is well acquainted because it is part of our traditional knowledge.”
The NPDRR, chaired by union Home Minister Amit Shah, is a multi-stakeholder platform constituted by the government to facilitate dialogue and share experiences, views, ideas, action-oriented research and explore opportunities in the area of disaster risk reduction.
Speaking on the occasion, Shah said that the time has come to enhance skill and speed in matters related to disaster management.
“We not only could reduce the deaths but also helped other nations in tackling natural calamities. Recently, we had sent NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) to Turkiye and their extraordinary work was praised the world over,” he said.
The home minister said that, before 1999, there was no proper system of disaster management.
“What we did at that time was only providing relief and to some extent rehabilitation, but in the last nine years, we have extensively set up early warning systems which helped us in handling natural calamities successfully,” he said.
In the past few years, India has witnessed a paradigm shift in disaster management with its “think-ahead approach,” Shah said.
During the programme, the prime minister felicitated awardees of the Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar for 2023 – the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority and the Lunglei Fire Station, Mizoram. (PTI)