Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday called upon BIMSTEC countries to improve their early warning dissemination system and capacity building for protection of cultural heritage sites from natural disasters.
The heritage sites must be preserved for future generations at any cost because they not only represent cultural identity of a nation but are also a driving force for the country's economy, the chief minister said.
Patnaik said this while inaugurating the second BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise-2020 (BIMSTEC DMEx-2020), hosted by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organisation of seven nations of south Asia and south east Asia.
Noting that the theme of the exercise is focused on restoration of heritage sites damaged in natural disasters, Patnaik said, "The BIMSTEC countries are a great repository of ancient heritage with numerous cultural heritage sites susceptible to various kinds of natural disasters."
The member states of BIMSTEC are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.
Substantial damages to monuments during Gujarat earthquake in 2001 and the 2005 tremor in Nepal are a reminder of the threat to heritage sites, Patnaik pointed out.
The chief minister said, Odisha is vulnerable to calamities as the state faced more than 100 cyclones since 1891.
"It is important to undertake adequate documentation, proper identification and grading of heritage sites," Patnaik said.
NDRF Director General SN Pradhan, State DGP Abhay, Odisha Chief Secretary A K Tripathy, representatives from five member countries and other dignitaries were present at the inaugural ceremony.
While five countries Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal - are participating in this exercise, two other member countries Bhutan and Thailand, could not make it due to travel advisories issued by their governments.
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