Odisha ahead in disaster preparedness: CM

Bhubaneswar (NVI): With a zero casualty approach, Odisha has shown the way
to the rest of the country in the area of disaster preparedness, response and recovery, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said today.

Speaking while inaugurating the second BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise-2020 here, Patnaik said since 1891, more than 100 cyclones have affected the state. Super cyclone of 1999 was a watershed moment in disaster management preparations in Odisha.

“We have learnt our lessons well and set up a robust disaster management mechanism. Moreover, Odisha was the first state that had set up its dedicated disaster response Force,” he said.

“The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), other organizations as well as the International media have hailed government efforts for ensuring the level of destruction to a minimum,” he said.

“It is doubly rewarding that the stated theme of the exercise is disaster resilience planning in heritage sites and areas like Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar which are iconic National & International sites,” he added.

He further said BIMSTEC countries present here have an extraordinary, vast and diverse pool of similar iconic cultural heritage sites, susceptible to various kind of disaster. ‘Gujarat Earthquake of 2001 destroyed 21 federally registered monuments across the Kutch. Similarly, Nepal Earthquake in 2015 did massive destruction across the country. These are the reminders for us,” Patnaik said.

Patnaik further deliberated on the need for restoration of heritage sites that are damaged by natural disasters must for future generation, not only because it is a source of the cultural identity of a local community, but also because it is a driving force of the economy.

“It is important to undertake adequate documentation, proper identification and grading of heritage sites based on the potential risk and other characteristics,” he said.

“We must improve upon early warning dissemination system and capacity building for conservation of cultural heritage sites,” he added.

“This exercise will prove a milestone in safeguarding the cultural heritage sites across the region,” he further added.

Odisha Chief Secretary Asit Kumar Tripathy said Odisha has suffered by maximum numbers of cyclones in the country like 1999 super cyclone, Titli, Bulbul & Fani which caused severe damage in the state. “After 1999 super cyclone, we made all preparation to tackle the disasters,” he said.

“During the super cyclone Fani we evacuated millions of people to the safer locations within 24 hours. Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) with NDRF and other stakeholders have conducted numerous operations in Odisha, Meghalaya and Kerala,” he said.

“The constant practice, Exercise helps to coordinate central & state agencies. When actual crises occur we work in a well-coordinated manner,” he added.

This exercise is being organized by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) from February
11 to 13 , 2020.

Five BIMSTEC countries — Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal — are participating in this exercise. However, Bhutan and Thailand are not participating in the exercise.

The three day long exercise shall consist of inaugural session and Table Top Exercise (TTx) on collapsed structure at Hotel Mayfair, Bhubaneswar on 11th February, 2020,

Tomorrow, Field Training Exercise (FTx) will be held on aquatic disaster response with focus on cultural heritage sites at Ramachandi beach in Puri followed by proceedings of Disaster Management Exercise and Policy Meeting of NDMA and NDMOs among the teams of participating Nations on February 13, 2020.

The objective of this exercise is to test the existing emergency procedures for notification, preparedness and emergency response, during a major earthquake and Flood scenarios.

This exercise shall also provide an opportunity to enhance the co-ordination & co-operation involving multi-agency operations in an earthquake, flooding & storm surge.

The exercise shall also test multi-stakeholders coordination in a disaster scenario involving international, national, state, district and local agencies.

An exercise village has been set up at Ramchandi, Puri where, simulation on aquatic disaster response with special attention to the damage to heritage site will take place as part of the exercise.

This will provide real-time scenarios so that in times of disaster, a proper plan for response & coordination among member nation can be executed in multi-agencies scenarios.

Earlier, in November, 2019 the first phase comprising a Preparatory Meeting and field visit of site selected for FTX during the main exercise, was held in Puri, Odisha.

The exercise will be attended by International observers like United Nations Development Progran (UNDP), International Search And Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) & The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), National observers like Indian National Trust for Art And Cultural Heritage (INTACH) & Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), representatives from various stakeholders viz. India Metrological Deptt. (IMD), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Centre Water Commission (CWC), Animal Quarantine and Certification Service (AQCS), Civil Defence, Fire Services, BIMSTEC Secretariat etc.