Disasters have claimed 317,000 lives and displaced 16 million people in BIMSTEC countries in the two decades from 1996, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today.
Inaugurating a two-day conference of BIMSTEC countries on disaster management, Singh said in terms of the number of extreme weather events -- floods, droughts, heat waves and cyclones -- the future was not going to be any better and the frequency and intensity of such events was likely to rise in view of climate change.
Over the period 1996 to 2015, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries have lost 317,000 lives to disasters.
In these disasters, more than 16 million people in the BIMSTEC countries have lost their homes and economic losses were also high and escalating, he said.
The conference was attended by the representatives of the BIMSTEC countries -- Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
The home minister said if the countries make the communities, towns and villages, and economic activities resilient, the losses can be reduced.
Singh said the improved disaster preparedness is a cornerstone of this effort and in this direction, all the BIMSTEC nations have made significant progress over the last two decades.
Highlighting the progress of various nations, he said the cyclone preparedness programme of Bangladesh was recognised as a global best practice and the last mile connectivity of the tsunami early warning system in Thailand has significantly improved preparedness in coastal areas.
Highlighting India's efforts in this direction, the home minister said New Delhi has been making concerted efforts to reduce preventable deaths and other losses and was also analysing the patterns of disaster mortality and taking focused steps.
Singh said India's effective handling of cyclones Phailin and Hudhud in the recent past was the direct outcome of over a decade of policy initiatives and enhancement of early warning capabilities, advance preparation, training and capacity development.
He expressed hope that over next few days besides focusing on joint exercise, the delegations will have the opportunity to share their country's experience.
Singh said the success of this joint exercise will depend not only on the work that will be done over next few days but also the follow-up work after the exercise.
The first BIMSTEC disaster management exercise began today in Delhi-NCR with an aim of sharing best practices among member nations to strengthen the regional coordination.
The exercise, to be held for three days, will be a platform to share best practices on all aspects of disaster risk reduction and strengthening regional response and coordination for disaster management among BIMSTEC countries.
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