Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Reuters

In view of the recent disaster management operations in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh has asked that the central and state authorities use the experience to improve management of disasters in the future. The PM was speaking at the opening of the fifth meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in New Delhi on Monday.

“We have witnessed two major disasters recently in our country – the tragedy of Uttarakhand and cyclone Phailin which affected Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. The rains and floods in Uttarakhand resulted in large scale devastation and severely tested the efficacy of our disaster response mechanisms. There are important lessons to be learnt from the experience gained from the rescue and relief operations that were carried out. I sincerely hope that all the concerned agencies of the Central and State Governments will utilise the experience of Uttarakhand in better management of disasters that we may face in the future,” said Singh during the inaugural speech at the meeting.

The cloudburst in July this year on Uttarakhand caused devastating floods and landslides, which also affected parts of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh killing at least 5,700 people. It was named the worst natural disaster since the Tsunami in 2004.

And cyclone Phailin in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh has wreaked havoc in the states, affecting at least 12 million people, according to official figures.

The PM said that extreme weather events were on the rise and impacted the poor and marginalised people in a disproportionate manner. “Even as we meet here, the people of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are suffering from very heavy rains in the past few days and the resultant floods,” he added.

He said Indian disaster management must quickly improve its capabilities and devise disaster risk reduction strategies, as part of the country's mainstream developmental programmes and policies. “This is an area on which the NDMA and the key Ministries of the Central Government should lay greater stress,” said the Prime Minister.

“Our early warning systems and response mechanisms should be strengthened further so that we are able to minimise the negative impact of disasters. In this context, NDMA’s efforts to strengthen community preparedness for disaster events and its engagement in activities related to disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness need to be continued with greater intensity,” he said.