Shimla:Â A two day National Seminar on â€œDisaster Preparedness & Managementâ€ organized jointly by Institute of Integrated Himalayan Studies (IIHS) and Department of Geography H.P. University got underway here today. About fifty scholars from neighboring Universities and Research Institutes of repute are participating in the seminar.
Inaugurating the seminar Mr. Jagat Prakash Nadda, Forest, Environment and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh stressed the need of preparedness to meet out any type of eventuality such like disaster. He said that we must have a holistic approach and try to understand the fragile impact of any of the activity on the earth. He called upon the Scientists, Scholars and Policy Planners to prepare a broader view of findings at the Seminar and while doing the same, the spiritual angle and the peopleâ€™s participation need to be considered at priority. He said that to understand the nature is of utmost importance and then only preservation and restoration of The Sustainable Himalayas could be done.
Speaking on the occasion the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Sunil Kumar Gupta said that by organizing such seminars, the climate management, disasters, floods and accidents like issues are discussed in detail and prepare a paper full of strategies and measures to avoid the big catastrophe to happen. He said that need of the hour is to manage the things in a systematic way with due consideration to the nature and climate change etc. He hoped that the deliberations in this seminar would be of immense use to the public in general and to Government and Policy Planners in particular when bringing out in a book-shape. He said that big hazards with vulnerability lead to the huge disaster and most important time is to prepare management strategies for reconstruction and rehabilitation (R&R) to them.
In his keynote address Prof. Ravindra K Pandey from Kumaun University, Nainital (Uttrakhand) & former Director Disaster Mitigation Centre Uttrakhand said that the cost of damage from nature hazards to governments, businesses, and families is very high and the money spent to clean up disasters is money lost to economic development. Prof. Pandey questioned that why do we resist making the small investments that would make buildings and infrastructure safe? Whey are individuals unwilling to insist on construction that makes their homes and business more hazard-resistant? He said that we must understand that land and water are both dynamic systems and limited resources, which need to be considered in almost every action we take.
Prof. Pandey further said that to reduce or minimize these losses we can work towards extending the application of existing techniques and knowledge or towards improving our hazard reduction capabilities. Being both logical and necessary, losses from earthquake can be reduced through a combined efforts involving geologic and seismologic research, engineering practices, building codes, urban planning and zoning, fiscal and taxation policy and preparedness
planning. Priority efforts, such as strengthening older hazardous buildings, demolishing them, or reducing their use, need to be applied to reduce the loss of life.
He said that development of disaster management mechanism is a specialized job, which has to be taken on priority and is as important as the development plan of the area. The occurrence of disaster affects the development work and thus the policy of disaster management has been worked out in two parts, i.e., the pre-disaster mitigation and post-disaster management, a comprehensive vulnerability analysis is to be undertaken, taking into account past disaster events, the socio-economic conditions of the population living in the area, the infrastructure and other structural facilities for hazards, risk assessment is to be undertaken for all hazards, and should include the area of influence, frequency, intensity, impact and time to return to normalcy.
He emphasized upon expanding observation and monitoring systems, especially in area where the data is scarce and risk is high. Reliable feedback information on warning systems, public reception and public reception with response and susceptibility of the warning system, to damage is also to be collected, he added. The most important need at the State level is to strengthen or develop capacity to undertake disaster mitigation strategies. Disaster vulnerability assessment is to be incorporated in the state development process so that projects and future investments reduce rater than increase vulnerability. He said that the disaster management policy should specifically emphasis the need for reaching out to the poor and the marginalized.
Prof. Pandey said that the most crucial aspect of the disasters is the vision, attitude, perspective, view point and mind-set through which we look at the problem. Certainly the perception of a high developed society about any aspect of disaster management, whether it is 9/11 incident or earthquake and landslide or drought- would be entirely different from those coming from a society laden with poverty, illiteracy, hunger, malnutrition, diseases, slums and other allied ills, or from a society which has not yet taster the fruits of development, or even seen the first ray of the rising sun.
Earlier Dr. Dev Dutt Sharma Convener of the Seminar highlighted the theme. IIHS Director Prof. Vidya Sharda presented a detail of the activities being conducted by IIHS and expressed hope to initiate several programme with the participation of the State Government. Present among others were Deans, Chairpersons and Directors from different Faculties, Department and Institutes of the University.