New Delhi, Oct.28 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Monday lauded the efforts of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in tackling Cyclone Phailin, and said that timely evacuation and minimal loss of lives in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh was possible due to the collaboration between different agencies.
"Our response to the more recent cyclone in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh has been encouraging. I am happy that the NDMA played a significant role in this response through close engagement and coordination with various Central Government Agencies, the State Government and even the District administration," he said at the fifth meeting of NDMA here today.
"It was only because of collaboration between different agencies that the daunting task of evacuating nearly 10 lakh people in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh was accomplished in a timely manner and with minimal loss of human lives," he added.
He further said that India witnessed two major disasters namely cyclone Phailin and the Uttarakhand floods, and added that there are important lessons to be learnt from the rescue and relief operations that were carried out at that time.
"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," he said.
"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 utilize the experience of Uttarakhand in better management of disasters that we may face in the future," he added.
Dr. Singh said that the response to cyclone Phailin also underscores the importance of measures taken in the past for disaster preparedness, including sensitization of stakeholders and mock exercises.
He also said that the sustained guidance provided by NDMA over the last eight years proved to be very useful and enabled government departments to respond quickly and systematically to the disaster.
"Collaboration between NDMA and the Odisha Disaster Management Authority in the pre-disaster phase of preparation of Disaster Management plans and formulation of Standard Operation Procedures; construction of a large number of cyclone shelters etc. resulted in positive outcomes," he said.
"I am also informed that the mock exercise organized in Srikakulam District on April 25 and April 26, 2013 and public awareness messages published in that area on October 8 and October 9, 2013 helped both the district administration as well as the community in executing a disciplined and quick response to the cyclone," he added.
He said that extreme weather events are on the rise and such events impact the poor and marginalized 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 said.
Dr. Singh further said that it is necessary to improve disaster management capabilities, and added that this is an area on which the NDMA and the key Ministries of the Central Government should lay greater stress.
"Every rupee spent on disaster preparedness is a saving of expenditure on post disaster relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction measures. Disaster Risk Reduction strategies therefore need to be mainstreamed into our developmental programmes and policies," he said.
"Our early warning systems and response mechanisms should be strengthened further so that we are able to minimize the negative impact of disasters," he added.
He said that 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. (ANI)