DRR Day: Experts call for a paradigm shift from response to mitigation in J&K


Srinagar: On the eve of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Day today, senior government functionaries and experts called for a paradigm shift from disaster response to mitigation in J&K.

At an online program jointly organised by National Institute of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs and Institution of Engineers (India), J&K State Centre, Srinagar, in collaboration with Divisional Administration, Kashmir, J&K Forest Department and Indian Red Cross Society, J&K Branch, Srinagar, stakeholders discussed and identified various issues for action towards disaster risk mitigation in J&K.

The program started with the address by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, J&K Dr. Mohit Gera, IFS who talked about the loss of precious forest cover and biodiversity, due to forest fires, due to human intervention. He said that the Forest department is taking all necessary measures to prevent forest fires and has constituted teams for response, who are being provided training and basic equipments. He said that 190 fire control rooms have been established in Jammu Division and 100 in Kashmir. Measures like rejuvenating natural sources of water are being taken, besides resorting to legal arrangements and involvement of SDMA, SDRF and Fire & Emergency Services and Panchayats for fire prevention.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K. Pole said that there has been paradigm shift from relief and response, to mitigation, early warning and risk reduction. He urged upon all Additional Deputy Commissioners, in their capacity as CEOs of the District Disaster Management Authority to take the lead role and benefit from such webinars, which give opportunities to the administrators to know where we are and where we ought to be, by knowing the best practices being implemented in other parts of the country and world. He appreciated IEI and NIDM for organizing such webinars and requested that such webinar be held more frequently, to further build capacities of the stakeholders.

President, Institution of Engineers (India) Er. Narendra Singh, FIE, informed that IEI which is the largest multidisciplinary organisation of engineers in India is celebrating its Centenary year, towards its service towards nation building. He mentioned that IEI has also established a disaster mitigation centre and focus is on how to reduce exposure to disaster risk.

Former Director NIDM, Dr Satendra Singh IFS presently working as Special Advisor in Bihar SDMA spoke on Climate Change in various countries and discussed about Hill Regions and Forest Fires.

Er. Arjimand Hussain an International Development Specialist and Founder Ziraat Times said that reduction in vulnerability to natural disasters saves lives, reduces poverty and also minimises economic and financial losses. He appreciated that institutional mechanism for disaster risk management has been put in place, with the setting up of SDMA and Divisional and District Disaster Management Authorities in J&K. He also said that robust response systems are in place at various levels with dedicated and trained State Disaster Response Force and Fire & Emergency Services. He suggested the need to plan for unanticipated disasters like pandemics and strengthen response systems and health institutions and engage with private sector and also focus on issues of climate change and community based preparedness.

Pushpender Johari, Sr Vice President RMSI India Pvt Ltd. gave a detailed presentation about various studies being conducted by RMSI related to Multi Hazard Risk Assessment, probalistic Earthquake hazard models, risk assessments for Floods, River Morphology Study, Flash Floods, GLOF, Avalanche, Drought, Forest Fires. He also mentioned about the social and physical vulnerability survey conducted and Disaster Risk Data Base, Integrated Operational Forecasting System and its integration into a State of the Art Decision Support System and the mobile apps being developed for better response.

Dr Amir Ali Khan, Faculty NIDM said that we are passing through difficult phase due to covid and it has a cascading impact in the event of any disaster, due to which life can be challenging. To overcome this there is need to create awareness amongst all the stakeholders particularly the society and local community, so that everyone is aware of their role, to make the society safe from impending disasters. He said that we have progressed in making societies disaster resilient. He spoke about the Sendai Framework for DRR, Sustainable Declaration of Goals, Paris Declaration Habitat 3 Agenda, Humanitarian Assistance and 10 point agenda of the Prime Minister.

Earlier Er Aamir Ali Mir Chairman IEI J&K State Centre Srinagar welcomed the participants and he also conducted the programme. He said that there is need to increase understanding of disaster risk reduction measures so that communities can be safer. Irfan Ali, IFS Conservator Forests HQ said that there is need to include Forest Fires as notified disasters, so that adequate budgetary allocations under State Disaster Mitigation Fund can be utilized for strengthening creation of a Unified Forest Fire Fighting Force, with manpower and latest fire-fighting equipments. He said that Village Forest Committees need to be trained and equipped so that they can act as the first responders in case of a forest fire. From NIDM Miss Yogita Garbyal Young Professional from NIDM facilitated the webinar. Big 92.7 FM were the Radio Partners of the event.

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